The rare “earthquake fish”, officially called the Russell's oarfish, is regarded by some as a sign of forthcoming bad news.
8 February 24
While many legends surround these deep-sea dwellers, it is unusual for humans to encounter oarfish – as reported in UNI LAD:
People left horrified after divers discover giant 'Doomsday Fish'
Finding fish in the ocean is by no means breaking news, but this isn't your usual fish.
A group of divers documented the moment they came across as so-called 'Doomsday Fish' while diving off the coast of Taiwan, and the aquatic animal is far from what you'd find in your local pet shop.
The fish isn't officially called that though - it's actually an oarfish. They're also known as pacific oarfish, king of herrings or ribbonfish.
These underwater monsters are the longest bony fish alive.
But why are they known as 'Doomsday Fish', I hear you ask? That's because some myths believe that they are harbingers of bad news; disasters or destruction in particular.
"The legend is that if you see an oarfish, it is a warning sign from higher powers that disasters such as earthquakes are soon to occur," Ocean Conservancy writes.
"According to numerous news reports, before Japan’s 2011 earthquake (one of the most catastrophic in history) a total of 20 oarfish washed ashore."
Despite their links to natural disasters, the Ecuadoran Geophysical Institute said the myth has no validity in any scientific study carried out as of August 2022.
Making this even more surreal, it's very rare that humans come across oarfish as they typically reside in the mesopelagic zone. This extends from around 200 to 1000m below sea level, and is sometimes referred to as the 'twilight zone'.
It's thought the only time the large fish wash up on beaches is after a storm or when they suffer a serious injury.
Elsewhere, people spotted the the large holes in the fish, which are thought to have come from a shark attack.
Diving instructor Wang Cheng-Ru, who was one of the people to have come across the oarfish, said: "It must have been dying, so it swam into shallower waters."
This was the first 'Doomsday Fish' he had ever come across.
Oarfish are considered one of the longest fish in the ocean and can measure up 36 feet in length and weigh over 200 kgs (441 lbs). Their body is scaleless and the skin has a slimy, silvery protective coating known as guanine. Their dorsal fin starts between its eyes and reaches its tail.
Due to its ability to adapt to different temperatures, oarfish are found in most of the world's oceans with the exception of the poles.
- AUTHOR: NIAMH SHACKLETON
- SOURCE: UNILAD