February 09, 2010
Deep in the gulf of Mexico, researchers photographed a swimming oarfish (Regalecus glesne) for several minutes. They captured the footage using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) provided by oil companies, who are drilling in the gulf.
The oarfish was filmed swimming beneath pone of the world's largest semi-submersible oil rigs, named Thunderhorse. It was apart of the Serpent project where oil companies loan researcher equipment.
"(It) provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about life in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. That we found an oarfish while doing so was a fantastic bonus," Professor Paul Benfield told the BBC.
Scientists believe that this remarkable denizen of the deep is likely responsible for sea serpent legends. The oarfish is most often seen coming into shallow waters to die or washed up dead on beaches.
One of the world's longest fish, the oarfish can reach lengths of 55 feet (17 meters). The fish sports dorsal fins all along its back giving it a spiny sea serpent-like appearance. They are infrequently caught by fishermen.
Oarfish that washed ashore on a Bermuda beach in 1860. The animal was 16 ft long and was originally described as a sea serpent. Illustration by: Harper's Weekly, 1860.
News report from Discovery Networks on oarfish footage.
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