An extremely rare Oarfish washed up on a beach at the mouth of Otago Harbour, New Zealand this morning. The impressive specimen was 3 metres long – medium sized for the species. Although rare other specimens have been known to reach lengths of over 8m.
The fish are long-distance ocean drifters and are usually found hanging in vertical position in the upper 300m of the water column. Healthy oarfish are known to wash up on beaches and are sometimes found near the water surface – so may be the origin of some “sea monster” myths.
Urban legend suggests Oarfish larger than 1.5m are known to shorten their length by biting off their tail but this is untrue. The fish has no teeth, making biting its own tail off impossible.