An enormous deep-sea oarfish was spotted in shallow waters off the northeast coast of Taiwan last month.
Captivating find: The divers who made the discovery captured the awe-inspiring moment on video, which highlights the fish’s massive size.
Measuring over six feet in length, the creature appeared to have several bite marks on its body.
Far from their habitat: Oarfish are deep-dwelling species that typically inhabit the mesopelagic zone, a region situated between 200 meters (approximately 658 feet) to 1,000 meters (approximately 3280 feet) below the ocean’s surface.
They are known to be very elusive and sightings of them near the water’s surface are very rare.
Oarfish in folklore: As they are rarely found in shallow waters, oarfish are viewed as mysterious and intriguing creatures and are often tied with local legends. These species can reach lengths of over 36 feet and likely contribute to the sea serpent legends that have endured throughout history.
In Japanese culture, the oarfish is revered as a “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace” and has gained a reputation as a harbinger of impending doom. Their mere presence is believed to be a sign of upcoming natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis.
According to National Geographic, six oarfish were spotted just days before a deadly 2017 earthquake in Surigao, Philippines.
Unlikely theories: Scientific experts have dismissed these claims as folklore, noting that there is no substantial evidence to support them.
In 2019, Japanese scientists released their findings after looking into over 220 earthquakes between 1928 and 2011 and comparing them against the 336 cases in which sightings of the fish were reported in local media.
“We began our research thinking that the appearance of deep-sea fish could become supplementary information for disaster prevention, but now we know that’s not the case,” said Yoshiaki Orihara, associate professor of Solid Earth Geophysics at Tokai University. “There’s no need for alarm if one appears. Knowing that it is difficult to predict earthquakes, we want people to be prepared in their daily lives.”