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Planet Earth

Video: Two Rare, 15-Foot Oarfish Seen Swimming With Tourists

D-briefBy Carl EngelkingApril 8, 2014 7:38 PM

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If there were ever a contest to snatch the title of “Ocean’s Top Sea Monster,” the oarfish would win in a landslide. The rare, sinuous fish lives deep in tropical waters and can grow to a length of up to 56 feet and weigh over 600 pounds. And, if you still aren’t convinced, the fish sports a red dorsal fin that rises at its head and resembles a massive punk rock Mohawk. In March, a lucky group affiliated with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium bumped into two of these silvery sea serpents swimming near the shore of the Sea of Cortés in Mexico. Fortunately for us, their cameras were rolling and they captured rare footage of the eel-like creatures swimming at their feet. A trip to shore for an oarfish is rare, and usually ends badly for the fish. The species made headlines in the fall when an 18-foot specimen, one of the biggest ever reported, died off the coast of California. Snorkelers brought it onto land where researchers and passers-by marveled at the behemoth. The oarfish is often the subject of myth and legend, and you can see why from the video. But no need to fear an oarfish encounter: they feed primarily on small ocean prey like zooplankton, shrimp and other crustaceans.

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