Friday, September 25, 2009


The weird news of this week featured a link to a photo gallery of the longest bony fish in the sea - the oarfish. The site didn't provide many details about these rare creatures, so I am compelled to do so here. Called the "king of the herrings," the oarfish is found in all temperate and tropical oceans, but rarely seen. They occasionally wash up on shore - most recently in February of 2009 - but that means they are dead or dying, as this video describes. As you can see, they need to be held by several people to pose for the pictures after being pulled in on fishing lines, because their ribbony bodies can grow to at least 36' long. They are to some extent fished commercially, but their flesh is gelatinous. Their bluish-black streaks and spots fade after death and they were not filmed alive until 2001. They undulate when swimming - leading some scientists to believe that the Loch Ness Monster may be an oarfish - and they have been seen to propel themselves upwards vertically. The oarfish, which has no visible teeth, feeds on zooplankton, shrimp, squid, and jellyfish, and are themselves preyed upon by sharks. Safe to say there are no oarfish in the spring-fed lake across the street from my house, but my friend Cris, who is also visiting, is thrilled to be catching and releasing large-mouth bass and - this morning - a big pickerel...

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