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Rarely seen deep-sea fish spotted on beach makes locals anxious

It's 'unusual' to see the species at the surface.

A rarely-sighted oarfish — believed to be a harbinger of earthquakes — has been found washed up on a beach.

The elongated fish usually found in the depths of the ocean and rarely seen by human eyes has made locals anxious after appearing on Los Coquitos beach in the Dominican Republic. The species are fabled for appearing just before natural disasters.

Locals moving the giant oarfish after it washes up on the beach.
It is 'unusual' to see giant oarfish at the surface, as they are known to live deep in the ocean. Source: Jam Press

The beach lies near the Septentrional-Oriente strike-slip Fault Zone, responsible for the 1842 Cap-Haïtien earthquake and tsunami in neighbouring Haiti, which killed approximately 5,300 people. The two-metre oarfish was first spotted by people walking by. Sadly, it later died.

“It’s a deep-sea fish,” José Ramón Reyes, Dominican Deputy Minister of Coastal and Marine Resources of the Ministry of Environment, told local media on Monday. “It’s unusual to find it at the surface.” He tried to reassure the public, adding: “It doesn’t pose any threat, it’s a fish that typically inhabits the depths.”

Why do oarfish wash ashore?

Fearless kids were seen playing with its carcass in the water after it died. The giant oarfish is thought to live at depths around 1,000 metres. It is the longest-known living species of bony fish, reaching a length of 17 metres and weighing up to 270 kg.

It is plentiful in the wild and feeds on tiny plankton. Giant oarfish, which can be found worldwide in all tropical and temperate marine waters, wash ashore when in distress or dying, or after storms or strong currents, scientists say.

“Deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea,” a report from 2013 states. In Australia there have been oarfish sightings in Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania and all along NSW’s coast, as well as Brisbane, according to the Australian Museum.

Jam Press

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