Oarfish are large, greatly elongated, pelagic labriform fish belonging to the small family Regalecidae. Found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen, the oarfish family contains three species in two genera.
One of these, the giant oarfish, (Regalecus glesne) is the longest bony fish alive, growing up to 11 m (36 ft) in length. They rarely come to the ocean surface, perhaps only when dying or disoriented, and occasionally wash up on beaches around their home range.
(all tropical to warm temperate seas) Most individuals that are discovered near the surface or near beaches do not survive. Unlike most fishes, the oarfish body has no scales. Some observers report that oarfish discovered at the sea surface often swim with their head and ornate “crown” out of the water as if they are searching for something.
This curious behavior, the long snake-like body, and the relative rarity with which they are observed at the sea surface (most notably after large storms) all feed the belief that mythical sea serpents attack mariners or even entire ships in the open ocean.
However, oarfish are quite harmless. They have very small mouths and no teeth, and they feed by filtering small prey from the water, swimming with their mouths open and capturing their food with modified bones that support their gills.
Keywords to learn
Elongated: To become longer.
Specimen: An individual animal or plant used as an example of its species for scientific study or display.
Hey Kids, my name is Owen the Oarfish and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
Key Oarfish Data
- Lifespan:The exact lifespan of the giant oarfish is not yet confirmed.
- Scientific Name:Regalecidae.
- Mass:600 pounds. (272 kg)
- Length:56 feet. (17 meters)
- Region found:worldwide in the upper layers of the open ocean. (the pelagic zone)
- Population Status:Least concern.
- Current population trend:Unknown.
- Sexual maturity:20 years.
Oarfish are very large for fish, are very beautiful and a harmless to other fish. Now that you know more about oarfish by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts.
When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the oarfish here: Oarfish (answers are on this page)
Oarfish Fun Facts for Kid
- # 1. Oarfish are the longest bony fish.
- # 2. The giant oarfish eats plankton, has no scales and is considered harmless.
- # 3. The oarfish has been said to forecast earthquakes.
- # 4. With the exception of the polar seas, the oarfish are believed to be found almost everywhere in the deep seas. They have been spotted in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and from the american pacific, to Chile in the southern hemisphere.
- # 5. As a happy inhabitant of the deep seas, its sightings have been rare. Most of these have occurred when a dead specimen has been washed on to the shore.
- # 1. How long can an oarfish grow to?
- # 2. What order does the oarfish belong to?
- # 3. What is the longest bony fish?
- # 4. What do oarfish eat?
- # 5. In what part of the ocean do oarfish live in? (depth)