Apr 08, 2014 05:55 PM EDT
Rare Oarfish Spotted Alive And Prodded By An Oar Off The Coast Of Baja, Mexico (VIDEO)
There aren't too many cooler aquatic finds than an oarfish, shaped somewhat like the head of an oar (a shape emphasized by the way it swims) with a thin, red, and dragon-like mane. ("Water Dragon" would be a cooler name, but it might already be taken.) Since they prefer deep waters, they're rarely seen in the wild, which made the one spotted off the coast of a Baja, Mexico beach quite the treat for a group of kayaking tourists, Discovery News reported.
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Somewhat ironically (because I'm not sure what full irony looks like) the oarfish in question seemed to be either stuck or lounging in sand amid the group of kayakers when it was lifted by none other than a person's oar. Suddenly, the fish-eel hybrid emerged from the sand and swam under the boat of whoever was filming.
"Look at the size of it," one woman exclaimed.
Giant oarfish, which this one appeared not to be but was still large nonetheless, can grow up to 36 feet long. Four species of the creature exist, according to Discovery News. Like most other rare fish, sightings in shallow water typically involve dead or sickly examples. The health of the one from the video below was unknown, though it seemed to be swimming rather slowly.
Because of their deep sea preferences, only a few oarfish are spotted per year. Last year, two dead ones -- and 18 footer and a 14 footer -- were discovered just days apart.
Some believe the appearance of oarfish are a prelude to earthquakes -- with some scientific evidence to support. Since they're closer to the ocean's bottom, they're more sensitive to the movement of fault lines.
"Deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea," a member of an earthquake prediction research organization told the Japan Times after several oarfish were spotted near Japan's coast following an 8.8 earthquake in Chile.