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Opah are found worldwide in subtropical and temperate seas (apparently avoiding equatorial waters), including the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, from the surface to a depth of around 500 m. In the western Atlantic, they occur from the Grand Banks and Nova Scotia (Canada) to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the West Indies. In the Pacific, they are found from Japan to the Gulf of Alaska and the Gulf of California. The Opah is one of only two species in the family Lampridae (the other being Lampris immaculatus, a rare species of the southern oceans south of 30º S that has a more elongate body, lacks pale spotting on the body, and has the ventral fin originating well behind the pectoral fin; Heemstra 2003). Opah consume a variety of pelagic animals, including squids, crabs, fish, jellyfish, and small crustaceans. They are sometimes caught by salmon and Albacore fishermen and on tuna longlines. The flesh is mostly salmon-colored, but darker over the pectoral fin. It is said to be dry but tasty and excellent when smoked. The superficially similar Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) has no pelvic fins or red pigment, has a tiny gill opening, and has no evident caudal (tail) fin.
(Eschmeyer and Herald 1983; Robins and Ray 1986; Heemstra and Heemstra 2004)
For additional information on Opah, visit the NOAA-NMFS FishWatch page and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWatch page.