Ethereal, 8-foot-long ‘sea serpent’ caught on video


Scientists have released video of an 8-foot-long, shimmering oarfish taken  about 200 feet below the ocean surface — and it is breathtaking.

Elusive and alien-looking, the oarfish has a thin, eel-like body with squiggly iridescent markings that glow blue in the video. It also has a long dorsal fin that stretches the length of nearly half its body, and large round eyes rimmed in silver. 

That bright white blob you see in the fish's spiny dorsal fins is a parasitic isopod — sort of like an ocean version of the roly poly bug — that has attached itself to the fish. It is a common parasite of marine fish, but it is the first time one has been seen on an oarfish, said Mark Benfield, a marine biologist at Louisiana State University.

Benfield is the lead author of a paper describing the oarfish video, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

Despite its great size, the fish orients itself vertically, with its head toward the ocean surface, and its blunt tail hanging down. This allows the fish to scan the water above for the krill and other small crustaceans that it eats, and may help it appear smaller to predators who are lurking below, said Benfield.

Written By: Deborah Netburn
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  1. Gorgeous. I’m not sure I understand the rationale behind looking smaller in order to discourage predators though. Is it because that makes it seem like too small of a bite compared to the effort of swimming up there and hunting it down?

  2. Watching film of deep sea critters is fascinating – yet I wonder how they first react to light, a strong beam no less, when a rover suddenly pierces their underworld darkness??

  3. Please forgive me once again, my poet friends. I was a volunteer collector, long ago, for the Vancouver Aquarium to secure exhibit species, and have a personal feeling that those times may have been the best of me. To me, this photograph is my god by my definition.

    That would be ‘perfect, remarkable, fragile beyond understanding, exceptional in itself, beyond my understanding”.

    That creature is all of that for poet me and I do not need religion to tell me otherwise, anywhere, anytime to claim rights over this very specific, very evolved creation.

    We all have this animal despite religion, not because of it.

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