Bizarre Marine Specimen Washes Up In Dunedin

Publish Date
Friday, 17 April 2015, 12:47PM

A bizarre, self-amputating, vertical swimming, serpent-like marine specimen has washed up on the salt marsh at Aramoana in Dunedin.

Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew said he was called by resident Don Gibbs, who discovered the 3m-long fish. He had never seen anything like it in his 20 years with DoC.

University of Otago New Zealand Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills confirmed it was an "oarfish". They have been known to grow up to 11m long.

"They are usually found in deep water in tropical temperatures but I think they do come up to feed on the surface."

She said it was unusual that it had been found washed up in a cold-water area.

Marine studies programme director Sally Carson said it was one of the most "bizarre rare fish".

She said the oarfish hangs vertically in deep water and is known to "self-amputate" by biting off its own tail.

"Why it would do that I have no idea."

Myths have surrounded the fish with people around the world mistaking it for a sea serpent - there has even been a suggestion the mythical Loch Ness Monster could be an oarfish.

Mrs Carson said DoC was looking after the oarfish.



- Otago Daily Times