Monster fish: Rare find puzzles anglers

2012-07-21 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A partly-eaten, three-metre-long fish that washed up at Paternoster on Thursday had anglers casting about to find out what type of monster fish it was.

Ichthyologists told them it was an oarfish.

It normally appears in waters that are deeper than 20 metres, swims vertically and can grow to 15 metres long.

“If I saw something like that while diving I would not go back into the water in a hurry,”said Marius van Broekhuizen, of Paarl, who had found the fish on the beach.

The oarfish he stumbled upon had half its head bitten off and bitemarks on its back.

Doctor Sean Fennessy, senior scientist with the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban, said little was known about the oarfish, as they are seldom caught.

He said its latin name is R egalecus glesne and it mostly swims in subtropical waters of between 20 and 1 000 metres.

There are reliable records of oarfish measuring eight metres, but Dr Kerry Sink, marine programme manager at the National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) in Cape, said the fish could grow to over 15 metres long.

She said they eat shrimp and crab larvae, small fish and squid.

Manerva Baron, tourism officer at Paternoster, said the fish was being kept in a deep freeze until they decided how and where to put it. One reader of the tourism office’s Facebook page posted that he was disappointed to learn the the long fish was not a giant snoek.

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