Silvery Oarfish Found Beachcast at Masons Bay, Stewart Island
by Dick Marquand
While on a deer hunt with an American client, South Island guide David Musgrave came across a rare silvery oarfish that had been washed ashore at the southern end of Masons Bay on Stewart Island. The specimen measured 4.3 metres (14ft) in length with a depth of 37.5cm (15 inches).
The ﬁsh had faded to a drab steel grey and displayed black markings along each side of the front section of its body. David reported his find to the Department of Conservation at Stewart Island as well as the National Museum.
Here is a very good photograph of a silvery oarfish known as the King of Herrings.
The silvery oarfish (Regalecus Glesne) is a rare open ocean species belonging to the family Regalecidae. The lack of teeth indicates that the species probably feeds on plankton. Specimens are usually found washed ashore on exposed beaches in dead or dying condition. The species is known to reach a length of 5.5 metres (17.9 feet).
In the book “Collins Guide to the Sea Fishes of New Zealand” by Tony Ayling and Geoffrey J. Cox, mention is made that the silvery oarfish are occasionally seen swimming up to the surface as they investigate deepsea trawling wires. The species is known to reach a length of 5.5 metres (17.9 feet).
The silvery oarfish has a long tapering body with a dorsal fin along its entire length. Above the head is a high crest of dorsal rays. There is no anal fin or tail fin and each pelvic fin consists of a single ray tipped with a paddle-like projection.
The colouration of the body is brilliant silver with bright bluish-purple splotches and stripes. The fins range in colour from a brilliant pink to a crimson red.
The line drawing is taken from the handbook “Native Animals of New Zealand” by A. W. B. Powell and is reproduced with the kind permission of the Auckland Museum.
Fishingmag.co.nz is keen to receive photographs with details of any unusual fish caught or found stranded so that we can share these interests with our readers. New Zealand Sea Fish Species