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Monday, 2 July 2012

Is This A Sea Monster?

The Giant oarfish, also known as the King of herrings may well be the longest bony fish alive, reaching an amazing length of up to 17 meters (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records). This astonishing creature is thought to be the inspiration of many myths of sea serpents and sea monsters – even the Loch-Ness monster. To many people, the oarfish may look frightening, but it is in fact harmless - it has no visible teeth and its diet consists of small crustaceans and zooplankton. 

Oarfish are actually remarkable creatures. They have long, laterally flattened, silvery blue bodies, and brilliant crimson fins. The first few rays of the long fringing dorsal fin that runs the entire length of the body form a spectacular crest on the head. According to recent accounts, the oarfish maintains a vertical position in the water, propelling itself slowly with rippling movements of the dorsal fin. The long ribbon-like pelvic fins, meanwhile, are held out to the sides as stabilizers. 

Sightings of live oartfish are extremely rare - this is because it lives in depths of 300 to 1000 meters and hardly ever appears near surface. Oarfish are most often encountered washed up on land either dead or dying in shallow waters. However, when an oarfish is sighted, it usually stirs considerable public attention, but the species has no commercial value, and its gelatinous flesh is not considered edible.

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