A pair of oarfish has recently been spotted by tourists off the coast of Mexico. These fish are rarely seen by human eyes and they are considered as the longest bony fish in the seas.
The eco-tourists who spotted the oarfish pair were accompanied by Shedd Aquarium vice president of collection and planning Tim Binder, who posted video footage of the event of the fish swimming in shallow waters near the beaches of Baja California.
"My God, look at the size of that thing!" said one of the surprised tourists who saw the oarfish.
Oarfish are greatly elongated and large bony fish that belong to the family Regalecidae. Some species are known to grow up to 36 feet in length. The are known to inhabit both temperate and tropical oceans but human encounters with this family of species is considered rare.
Binder says that his group was able to observe the oarfish for approximately 20 to 30 minutes when the pair swam around near the group of humans. The pair constantly tried to beach themselves and eventually succeeded. Once on the beach, the oarfish died after a short amount of time. Unfortunately, the Shedd Aquarium group was on an ecotourism expedition and the team was not able to take any samples of the oarfish. Moreover, taking an oarfish specimen can be very difficult due to their large size.
This type of behavior has been observed in oarfish in the past. However, scientists are currently unsure as to why these fish engage in such suicidal behavior. Experts have reported that oarfish beaching usually occurs in parts of the ocean where water from the deeper parts of the ocean wells up into more shallow areas. This upwelling of water is seen as one of the most likely explanations as to why oarfish are sometimes seen in shallow waters. The Shedd Aquarium group also said the group was lucky to be onsite when the beaching happened since the likelihood of witnessing such events is very low.
Another dead oarfish was found floating near Toyon Bay, Catalina Island in California. The specimen was reported to be around 18 feet long and it took a team of 15 people from the Catalina Island Marine Institute to bring the specimen onto shore. Since there are very few recorded sightings of oarfishes, there is very little observational data about their behavior. Their elusiveness also makes it difficult for scientists to estimate their populations in the wild.