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Cozumel fishermen with their oarfish. Cozumel fishermen with their oarfish.

Fishermen catch rare, 6-meter oarfish off Cozumel

The fish, which appeared to have been injured, is normally found in deep water

Fishermen from Cozumel, Quintana Roo, encountered a rare, six-meter-long oarfish this week. 

In a video posted to Facebook, the fishermen filmed the bizarre-looking fish they found swimming close to the surface before they gaffed it and brought it on board. It appeared to have suffered a bite wound, the fishermen said, suggesting that was the reason it had left deep water.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the oarfish, whose scientific name is Regalecus glesne, can grow to 10 meters long, and weigh up to 270 kilos. It is the longest bony fish in the world.

Because of its bizarre, elongated appearance, it has been associated with sea serpents in some cultures. Japanese legend has it that their appearance is a harbinger of earthquakes and tsunamis, postulating that the oarfish is a messenger sent from the palace of the sea god regarding impending disaster.

The oarfish typically lives at depths of 200 to 1,000 meters and scientists think that it is actually storms or strong currents, rather than an impending seismic disaster, that can push injured fish into shallow waters where they often die.  

The Cozumel oarfish gaffed by a fisherman this week.
The Cozumel oarfish gaffed by a fisherman this week.

Otherwise, the reclusive fish has rarely been seen in its normal habitat, although scientists do know that it is one of the few animal species that can self-amputate; when encountering a predator the oarfish is able to drop up to 75% of its body length and swim away if it feels threatened.

The oarfish, which feeds on plankton, squid and crustaceans, is found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters.

Although sightings in Mexico are rare, two young men from Texas found a juvenile oarfish washed up on the beach of Baja California Sur’s East Cape region in July 2019. They helped oxygenate its gills then guided the fish into deeper waters where it swam off, apparently healthy. 

Source: Infobae (sp)

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