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What is an Oarfish? Strange Creature Washes Up In Cabo San Lucas [VIDEOS]

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Oct 13, 2012 12:12 AM EDT

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This photograph of a giant oarfish being held by members of the military, was taken in 1996.(Photo : Wikimedia)

A 15-foot oarfish washed up on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The bizarre and rare creature stunned locals and visitors and many are wondering what an oarfish is.

The elongated oarfish was discovered on the busy Medano Beach. According to Pisces Sportfishing,  Pisces Real Estate employee, Roberto Gonzalez was one of the first people to find the oarfish. He first noticed a commotion on the beach and thought an accident occurred.  He noticed people trying to assistant the animal as it was still alive.

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According to Pisces Sportfishing, "he ran down to get a closer look and saw three locals assisting the strange creature, which appeared to be in distress and it struggled for air."

The people on the beach tried to save the animal and return it to the Sea of Cortez, but their attempts were unsuccessful. The creature repeatedly floated back to shore. The body of the creature was removed from the beach after it died.

To see photos of the oarfish that washed up, check out the Pisces Sportfishing Blog.

It is very rare to see an oarfish as they are a deep water fish. They are typically found in tropical waters, particularly in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, at depths between 600 and 3,000 feet. They are usually only seen when they wash up to die.

These silver fish have elongated bodies and move in an undulating, serpent-like motion.  They are the longest bony fish in the world, but unlike most fish, they do not have scales. They have a bright red or orange dorsal fin that runs the entire length of its body. There are four species of oarfish.  They are also known as ribbonfish or the king of herrings.

Oarfish can reach lengths over 50 feet and can weigh up to 600 pounds. The largest ever recorded was 56 feet long.

Oarfish have small mouths and no visible teeth, so they mostly eat plankton, small crustaceans and small squids.

Even though it is rare to see an oarfish, it is believed that there is an abundant number of them in the world, so they are not considered to be endangered.

A much smaller oarfish washed up in Keiss beach in Scotland last month.

Here are some live oarfish that were caught on camera:


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