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Rare Sighting of a Giant Oarfish Along Mexican Coastline

Giant Oarfish in California

A giant Oarfish was caught on video while a group of tourists were kayaking in the coastal waters of Baja, Mexico.

The video shows two giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) swimming near a beach in shallow water trying to beach themselves.

“It was one of the most stunningly beautiful fish I’ve ever seen,” says Tim Binder, vice president of collection and planning for the Shedd Aquarium, who recorded much of the video. It was shot in early March in a remote area north of La Paz, near Isla San Francisco.

Lia Stamatiou, expedition leader for Un-Cruise Adventures said: “I learned about the oarfish as one of those fish you study but never see. Seeing it swim up to us on the beach I was completely stunned. It was one of the most surprising and beautiful animals I had ever seen, with fantastic iridescent blue skin and a vibrant red dorsal fin.”

Because oarfish live at depths up to 3,000 feet, humans rarely see them, especially up close near the surface. Most encounters with oarfish occur when the animals wash up dead on the beach, or sick in the shallows.

Milton Love, a research biologist at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said the oarfish in the video might be dying.

“As far as is known all of the ones that somehow get close to shore wind up dying. Their usual haunts are in deeper, quieter waters at least somewhat offshore,” Love told NBC News by email. “Why they wind up near shore is unknown, but likely at least sometimes the fish get carried into these turbulent waters by unexpected currents.”

The giant oarfish is the world’s longest bony fish and can reach a length of 56 feet (17 meters) and weigh up to 600 pounds (270 kilograms), National Geographic reported. The fish had bright silver patterns with blue spots and a dramatic crown. “They had an undulating way of swimming; it was very graceful,” says Binder.

Rare oarfish sighting

During a recent Shedd Adventures trip to Baja in partnership with Un-Cruise Adventures, participants witnessed not one, but two rare oarfish in shallow waters.

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