5 thoughts on “Oarfish”

  1. I remember seeing three preserved oarfish specimens when I was young, somewhere in southern California. They were big, though not quite the size of the one in the article. I also remember reading (in ’96, maybe?) an account of someone who swam with them. This account said that they were swimming not in the expected serpentine fashion, but vertically in the water!

  2. Likely the source of many sea-serpent sightings

    Well, actually.. no (and apologies if that sounds rude: not intentional!). There aren’t really any sea serpent accounts that describe oarfish to my knowledge, plus it now turns out that oarfishes hold their bodies VERTICALLY when swimming. So I don’t think they play a role in sea serpent sightings: other animals do.

  3. Darren, are you just referring to my vague memory about vertical oarfish, or do you know something about it too? I wish I had something more specific than a half-remembered source form a decade ago. In any case, the vertical orientation might be only an occasional behavior. Also, where do you go for your sea serpent accounts? Curiosity has been piqued.

  4. Vertical swimming in oarfish was described and photographed in…

    Skerry, B. 1997. High-seas drifter. BBC Wildlife 15 (6), 64-65.

    … though I agree that we don’t know enough to be sure that all individuals swim this way all the time.

    Nevertheless, there aren’t really any ‘sea serpent’ sightings that describe oarfish. And as for the latter, I prefer the term ‘marine cryptid’ myself: there is a lot of literature describing marine cryptid accounts, with the most comprehensive work being Heuvelmans’ In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents. People that work on this area (most notable among them the ichthyologist Charles Paxton) argue that, while many accounts can be re-interpreted as sightings of known animals, there is still a hard-core of decent sightings, often reported by experienced, qualified observers, which describe animals as yet unknown. If you want more details I guess I’ll have to elaborate another time (am actually writing stuff on this area right now).


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