Scientists have released what's believed to be the first-ever deep-sea footage of a living oarfish, according to a report on petethomasoutdoors.com.
"The serpent-like denizens, which reside at great depths, are presumed responsible for spawning myths of sea monsters among ancient mariners," Thomas writes. The footage in the clip was captured in 2011, via remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It was released this week.
The ROV, operated by Mako Technologies and utilized for Hornbeck Offshore Services in what was called the SERPENT project, was conducting sea floor and water column surveys when the oarfish came into view, the report states.
Oarfish, which are known to reach lengths of 30-plus feet, are mysterious largely because of their near-lightless habitat and because the only specimens previously seen had washed ashore dead or dying. One of the more recent was last October off Cabo San Lucas. A 15-foot oarfish came ashore on bustling Medano Beach and immediately attracted a crowd. It was barely alive and efforts to revive the "sea monster" failed, so it was collected for scientific study, Thomas reports.
In 2006, a barely-live oarfish surfaced in a cove at Santa Catalina Island in Southern California. Harbormaster Doug Oudin, who donned snorkeling gear and swam with the fish before it eventually perished, described its coloring as "metallic silver with bright blue-brown spots and splotches, along with its amazing pinkish-red full-length dorsal fin," petethomasoutdoors.com reports. Oudin added that the oarfish appeared to be blind, which isn't surprising, considering that these denizens, which have large saucer-shaped eyes, live at lightless depths of 1,500 to 3,000 feet.
In 1808, a 56-foot serpent-like creature washed ashore in Scotland. In 1901, a 22-foot oarfish drifted onto the sand in Newport Beach, California, becoming, according to one reference book, "the basis for many sea-serpent stories told by local bar patrons for more than a decade after its discovery," Thomas writes.