Swimming oarfish have been photographed and their motion through the water documented.
In any case, oarfish flesh is said to be gelatinous and unpalatable.
Oarfish swimming on or near the water surface move with an undulating motion reminiscent of a sea serpent with humps, showing against the natural waves and motion of the water.
Despite its rarity, the oarfish is not ICUN listed as an endangered species.
The oarfish is a broadcast spawner, depositing unguarded buoyant eggs in the epipelagic or mesopelagic depths of the open ocean.
Oarfish are cosmopolitan or nearly so and have been recorded in all of the world’s oceans and seas, excepting possibly the polar seas.
The oarfish and its close relative, the streamer fish (Agrostichthys parkeri), both of which are members of the Regalecidea family, lack scales, anal fins, teeth, and swim bladder.
The eyes are small, but the vertebrae are numerous, numbering to 170 in oarfish, along with the large number (to 412) fin rays.
Courtship and mating has not been observed, but a dead female found stranded on the Floridian coast in March along with several male oarfish contained 140,000 eggs.
Most recent sightings of oarfish are in shallow tropical and subtropical waters and may possibly represent diseased or disoriented individuals.
Perhaps tales of the fabled sea serpent can finally be laid to rest at the oarfish door.
The small, horse-like head, large eyes, serpent-like body, and undulating motion of an oarfish swimming on the surface must surely account for some of the many sea serpent tales.
The distal ends are flattened and expanded like the blades of an oar, from which the oarfish may derive its name.
Coupled with its snake-like appearance, the oarfish is sometimes mistaken for the fabled serpent, which it is not.
Other reports suggest that the oarfish spawns in tropical and subtropical waters off Mexico from July to December.
The oarfish body is ribbon-like or snake-like, elongate and tapering towards the tail.
An article in the UnderwaterTimes.com shows three people holding an oarfish at least three meters in length, which they had found washed up at City Beach in Perth, Australia on June 29, 2004.
Fish biologists maintain that the oarfish derives its popular name from flattened surfaces on its pelvic fins that were once thought used for oars.
Within this class, the oarfish are placed in the order Lampridiformes, which contains 41 recognized species of marine fish.
Weight of average oarfish specimens is in the 100 kilogram range, with large specimens possibly reaching 300 kilograms.
Popular suggestion is that oarfish were named for their long and laterally compressed body, which was thought to resemble an oar.
The stomach of a single oarfish about three meters in length contained about 10,000 euphausid krill.
The “royal” nature accorded the oarfish may also result from the crimson or brilliant red markings that adorn the fins of this fish.
On the other hand, the sight of an oarfish swimming on the surface is sure to draw cries of “sea serpent” and inevitably evoke attention.
Regardless of their diversity of shapes and sizes, the oarfish and its ordinal relatives share several characteristics in common.
The article noted that this was but one of at least six oarfish that had been reported along the western Australian coast in recent months.
Of equal interest is the fact that to some observers the oarfish body form and bright red dorsal fin rays suggest a fearsome sea dragon instead.
The oarfish is a planktonic feeder that consumes small fishes, crustaceans, and other plankton in the water column, which they strain from the water with their gill rakers.
Currently, a single species of oarfish is recognized although some authorities suggest that several forms may represent valid species.
The oarfish connection to the fabled sea serpent remains plausible but unconfirmed.
The oarfish is placed in the family Regalecidea, which is one of six families in this order.