A captivating video has recently captured the internet’s attention. Shot off the northeastern Ruifang District of Taiwan, the footage reveals a group of divers, led by instructor Wang Cheng-Ru, discovering a strikingly large oarfish in waters far shallower than its usual habitat. Such a close-up observation of this deep-sea creature is quite unusual, especially when considering they generally reside between 200 to 1,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. A unique shimmering silver pattern on this particular oarfish, paired with its apparent injuries, aligns with local tales hinting at forthcoming calamities.
Cheng-Ru remarked to Newsweek, “The marine life on Taiwan’s northeast coast never ceases to amaze, but witnessing a giant oarfish was a first for me.”
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Delving Deeper into the Giant Oarfish World
Distinguished as the planet’s longest bony fish by the Guinness World Records, the giant oarfish predominantly dwells roughly 700 feet under the sea. Nonetheless, some have been found at staggering depths of up to 3,280 feet. Globally found in non-Arctic waters, their unique appearance is defined by a scaleless body that gleams with silvery guanine. They’re popularly referred to as ‘oarfish’ due to their streamlined, elongated structure, a detail highlighted by the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Are Oarfish Threatening?
Far from it. Despite their considerable size and rare sightings, oarfish are entirely harmless. Absent of teeth, they feed on plankton using specialized structures known as gill rakers. While their impressive appearance might have given rise to ancient tales of sea serpents, no encounters with oarfish have ever reported harm.
Legends Surrounding the Oarfish
Within Japanese traditions, the oarfish carries a mysterious aura. Often referred to as “ryugu no tsukai” or “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace,” it is believed to be an emissary of the sea deity Ryūjin. Legends assert these fish journey to the surface as messengers, warning of upcoming seismic activities. Interestingly, their sightings did occur before the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima disaster. However, Hiroyuki Motomura, a foremost ichthyologist at Kagoshima University, emphasized to the New York Post, “Despite popular beliefs, there’s no scientific basis linking oarfish appearances to earthquakes. Their surfacing could be attributed to health issues and the currents possibly explain why they’re often found deceased.”