An oarfish is a kind of very long, flat fish. "Oarfish" is another word for fish in the Regalecidae family. There are four species of oarfish in the world. The giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) is the longest bony fish alive in the world today. It can grow up to 17 metres (56 ft) long.
Oarfish live in the pelagic zone. This means that they live in water that is not near the shore and not near the bottom of the ocean. They live in all temperate and tropical oceans. Oarfish are also very rare. They are usually only seen when a dead one washes onto the shore. When oarfish are sick or dying, they swim up near the surface of the water. This behavior means that oarfish are probably the "sea serpents" in legends.
There are two ideas about why these fish are called "oarfish." One idea is that their bodies look like oars because they are very long and flat. The other idea is that some people used to think that oarfish swam by moving their fins like the oars of a row boat. We now know that this "rowing" idea wrong. The family name Regalecidae comes from a word in Latin: regalis, which means "royal".
Sources[change | change source]
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2007). "Regalecidae" in FishBase. March 2007 version.
- Bourton, Jody. Giant bizarre deep sea fish filmed in Gulf of Mexico. BBC Earth News
- Olney, John E. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 157–159. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.