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Giant oarfish seen live in rare video


Prepare to be oared.

(That's a joke about being floored, not about being bored. Oar we on the same page? Read on.)

Mysterious Regalecus glesne, the giant oarfish, is the world's longest bony fish, with unconfirmed reports of specimens 17 metres long. Many believe the oarfish is responsible for legends of sea serpents. 

But because they live in the deep ocean, the life of the oarfish has been almost as mysterious as that of the giant squid. Like Architeuthis, impressively gigantic dead oarfish have washed up onshore or been captured by fishermen. But underwater sightings are rare. 

This week, a team of American oceanographers has announced that a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) captured rare live video of a giant oarfish in its natural environment. News of the video was first reported on Deepseanews.com, sending oarfish nerds into ecstasies.


As that second tweet mentions, the video gets good about halfway through -- I personally recommend the five minute mark.

The oceanographers are part of the SERPENT project, a collaboration with offshore oil and gas companies. The companies make their state-of-the-art ROVs available to scientists, and they also train their own operators to be on the lookout for unusual creatures, according to the project website.

The video posted above was captured in the Gulf of Mexico by an ROV being operated by a company taking part in the natural resources damage assessment after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The ROV was returning to the surface when its operator spotted the oarfish. It filmed the fish at 62 metres deep for 10 minutes. 

The new findings consist of five different videos captured between 2008 and 2011 in the northern Gulf of Mexico from, at the deepest, 492 metres below the surface. 

The findings are reported in the Journal of Fish Biology, whose editors can likely hoardly contain themselves.


Kate Allen is the Toronto Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen.




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