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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Oceanic and can live at great depths (Ref. 2850), but occasionally cast up on beaches (Ref. 9563). Feed on euphausiid crustaceans, small fishes and squid (Ref. 6738). Spawning occurs between July and December and larvae are encountered near the surface (Ref. 9337). Also caught with encircling nets and marketed fresh (Ref. 9337). In Guinness Book of Records as longest bony fish (Ref. 6472).
  • Bauchot, M.-L. 1987 Poissons osseux. p. 891-1421. In W. Fischer, M.L. Bauchot and M. Schneider (eds.) Fiches FAO d'identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome. (Ref. 3397)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=3397&speccode=2504 External link.
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Regalecus glesne, known by the fanciful name of "king of herrings" or the more stoic "oarfish", is the longest of the Teleost fish, reaching an average length of 5-8m and a record of 17m. (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998) It has a long, ribbonlike body with a red dorsal fin running its entire length (Robins and Ray, 1986). The dorsal fin is longest in front, making a cockscomb on the head (Eschmeyer and Herald, 1983). It has 260-412 fin rays (Nelson, 2006). The pelvic fins are long and slender, only containing one fin ray, with an oarlike membrane at the tip (Robins and Ray, 1986). These rays are possibly used for taste (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998). The body tapers to a tiny caudal fin which is entirely lost in some specimens (Eschmeyer and Herald, 1983). It has 143-170 vertebrae (Nelson, 2006). There is no anal fin, and no scales (Nelson, 2006). The skin is covered with tubercles (Robins and Ray, 1986). R. glesne has small eyes, no teeth, and no swim bladder (Nelson, 2006). The body is gray to silvery with varied black markings and red fins (Robins and Ray, 1986; Eschmeyer and Herald, 1983).

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Distribution

Atlantic: widely distributed
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Atlantic Ocean: widely distributed, including the Mediterranean (Ref. 231). Indo-Pacific. Eastern Pacific: Topanga Beach in southern California, USA to Chile (Ref. 2850).
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Regalecus glesne is globally found in tropical to warm temperate waters from England to New England to Brazil and from Japan to New South Wales, Australia (Schmitter-Soto, 2008).

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Circumglobal, including Mediterranean Sea.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0
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The long (~8 m) and slender silvery body has red fins, most notably a red dorsal fin running the length of the body with a corkscomb on the head, and a long slender pelvic fin with one fin ray, with an oarlike membrane on the tip. The skin is covered in tubercles (Robins and Ray, 1986; Eschmeyer and Herald, 1983).

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Size

Max. size

1,100 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 2850)); max. published weight: 272.0 kg (Ref. 6472)
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R. glesne is the longest bony fish, with average length of 5-8m and record length of 17m. Possibly weigh up to 227 kg (Eschmeyer and Herald, 1983).

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Diagnostic Description

Head and body silver in color with blue streaks; body with blackish streaks and spots (Ref. 4171). Dorsal fins crimson in color and with 10-12 + about 400 soft rays. Pelvic fin represented by a prolonged, ribbon-like ray.
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Regalecidae is differentiated from the related Trachipteridae most easily by the long pelvic fins consisting of only one fin ray.

One way to differentiate Regalecus glesne from Agrostichthys parkeri, the only other species in the family Regalecidae, is the number of gill rakers: while R. glesne has 40-58, A. parkeri has 8-10. R. glesne has no dorsal spines, A. parkeri has many. Also, while R. glesne is subtropical, distributed in Bermuda and both coasts of Florida, from Southern California to Chile, and in the Caribbean, A. parkeri is found in Southern Hemisphere temperate waters (Robins and Ray, 1986; Schmitter-Soto, 2008).

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Ecology

Habitat

Known from seamounts and knolls
  • Stocks, K. 2009. Seamounts Online: an online information system for seamount biology. Version 2009-1. World Wide Web electronic publication.
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nektonic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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oceanic and can live at great depths, but occasionally cast up on beaches
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Environment

pelagic-oceanic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); marine; depth range 20 - 1000 m (Ref. 9337), usually 20 - 200 m (Ref. 4171)
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Depth range based on 16 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 15 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 15 - 2587
  Temperature range (°C): 3.048 - 21.280
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.905 - 33.111
  Salinity (PPS): 34.470 - 35.593
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.160 - 6.221
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.196 - 2.265
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.952 - 53.400

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 15 - 2587

Temperature range (°C): 3.048 - 21.280

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.905 - 33.111

Salinity (PPS): 34.470 - 35.593

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.160 - 6.221

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.196 - 2.265

Silicate (umol/l): 0.952 - 53.400
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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R. glesne is a marine fish which lives in the mesopelagic zone, between 200 and 1000 m in depth (Nelson, 2006). It has also rarely been found at the surface, possibly leading to many sea serpent myths (Roberts, 2002).

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Depth: 20 - 1000m.
From 20 to 1000 meters.

Habitat: pelagic. Oceanic and can live at great depths (Ref. 2850), but occasionally cast up on beaches (Ref. 9563). Feeds on euphausid crustaceans, small fishes and squid (Ref. 6738). Spawning occurs between July and December and larvae are encountered near the surface (Ref. 9337). Also caught with encircling nets and marketed fresh (Ref. 9337). In Guinness Book of Records as longest bony fish (Ref. 6472).
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Migration

Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Migration patterns unknown. However, given smaller average specimen size in American waters than in European, possible migration as adults from west to east is possible, at least in the North Atlantic populations (Schmitter-Soto, 2008). The migration would probably be oceanodromous, limited to the oceanic environment, given R. glesne have never been found in freshwater.

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Trophic Strategy

Regalecus glesne is a filter-feeder which uses its gill rakers to feed on the plankton of the mesopelagic oceans, straining the water's contents into its three-foot stomach (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998). It catches small fish, cnidarians, krill, euphausiids, and other small invertebrates. It has been found in shark and lancetfish stomachs, and so cannot be considered a true top predator (Haedrick, 1964; Schmitter-Soto, 2008).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feed on euphausid crustaceans, small fishes and squid
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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R. glesne usually lives in depths of 200-1000m, eating a variety of fishes and invertebrates (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998), especially krill and euphausiids (Roberts, 2002), squid, and cnidarians (Schmitter-Soto, 2008). They are only found rarely, sometimes washed up on shore after being injured by shark predation (Schmitter-Soto, 2008) or lancetfish predation (Haedrich, 1964).

R.glesne have been observed suspended with the head up in the water column, and have the ability to descend rapidly via undulations of their long dorsal fin (Edwards, 2010).

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Life Cycle

Mating system and parental care are unknown.
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Reproduction

Little is known specifically about the reproduction of R. glesne, but as a lampridiform fish, it probably lays large pelagic eggs of about 2-6 mm in diameter via broadcast spawning, which incubate at the surface for up to three weeks in some species (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998). Larvae have been found at the surface that have been identified as R. glesne (Bauchot, 1995).

Lampridiform embryos quickly develop into swimming larvae with long, distinctive rays on the pelvic and dorsal fins (Paxton and Eschmeyer, 1998).

Given seasonal changes in records, it is thought that R. glesne spawn between July and December (Bauchot, 1995).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Regalecus glesne

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.

Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

ATGGTGGGCACAGCCTTA---AGCCTACTCATCCGAGCTGAACTAAGCCAACCTGGCGCCCTTCTTGGAGAT---GATCAGATCTACAATGTTATTGTTACGGCCCATGCCTTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATCATAATTGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTTATCCCCCTAATG---ATCGGTGCCCCCGATATAGCATTCCCCCGAATAAAYAACATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTCCCCCCCTCTTTCCTCCTACTCCTAGCCTCTTCCGGGGTAGAAGCCGGAGCTGGGACAGGRTGAACWGTATACCCCCCTCTGGCCGGGAACCTGGCCCACGCCGGAGCATCCGTTGACTTA---ACCATTTTTTCCCTTCACCTAGCAGGGRTTTCCTCAATTCTAGGGGCAATTAACTTTATTACCACAATCATTAACATAAAACCCCCAGCCATTTCCCAATATCAAACCCCCTTATTTGTGTGATCCGTCCTAATTACAGCTGTCCTTCTTCTCCTGTCTCTGCCAGTTCTCGCTGCY---GGAATCACAATACTTCTAACAGATCGAAACCTAAACACAACCTTCTTTGACCCTGCAGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTGTACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTTGGTCACCCAGAAGTGTATATTCTTATTCTACCCGGATTTGGAATAATCTCCCACATTGTTGCCTATTATTCAGGCAAAAAA---GAACCTTTCGGCTATATAGGAATAGTGTGAGCAATGATAGCCATCGGACTCCTAGGATTTATTGTATGAGCACATCACATATTCACAGTAGGGATAGGAGTAGAGACACGA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Regalecus glesne

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Regalecus glesne are rarely observed. When observed, they are usually injured, as their standard habitat is sufficiently deep as to not interact with humans often. As such, there is little way of knowing how threatened they are beyond via extrapolation from limited numbers of sightings. However, they make no appearance on conservation lists such as the IUCN list (IUCN, 2010), and so are not considered endangered.

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Unknown. Probably stable.

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Threats

Not Evaluated
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There is very little data from which to derive evidence of threats to Regalecus populations. There are probably none derived from immediate human influence, as there is very little interaction between R. glesne and humans.

However, Robison suggests that deep sea diversity is threatened in general by a wide array of factors, including climate change, increasing carbon dioxide levels leading to increased ocean acidity, ballast water allowing invasion of pathogens and exotic species, and the expansion of oxygen minimum layers (Robison 2009).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; price category: high; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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Regalecus glesne is a remarkable fish. It is probably responsible for many sea serpent stories. Beyond simply explaining sailors' tales, learning about the biomechanical properties of the movement of the longest bony fish in the world could help lead to optimizations of biomimetic engineering for large and long transport vehicles.

Finally, study and promotion of such an amazing fish could lead to interest in the biological sciences. Who wouldn't want to study such living legends?

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Wikipedia

Giant oarfish

The giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), also called the king of herrings, is a species of oarfish of the family Regalecidae. It is an oceanodromous species with a worldwide distribution, excluding polar regions.

R. glesne is the world's longest bony fish. Its shape is ribbonlike, narrow laterally, with a dorsal fin along its entire length, stubby pectoral fins, and long, oar-shaped pelvic fins, from which its common name is derived. Its coloration is silvery with dark markings, and its fins are red. Its physical characteristics and its undulating mode of swimming have led to speculation that it might be the source of many "sea-serpent" sightings.

Taxonomy[edit]

R. glesne was first described by Peter Ascanius in 1772. The genus name, Regalecus, signifies "belonging to a king"; the specific epithet glesne is from "Glesnaes", the name of a farm at Glesvær (not far from Norway's second largest city of Bergen), where the type specimen was found.[2]

Its "king of herrings" nickname may derive from its crownlike appendages and from being sighted near shoals of herring, which fishermen thought were being guided by this fish.[3] Its common name, oarfish, is probably an allusion to the shape of its pelvic fins, or else it may refer to the long slender shape of the fish itself.

Distribution[edit]

The giant oarfish has a worldwide pelagic distribution. It is believed to be oceanodromous, following its primary food source.[4] It has been found as far north as 72°N and as far south as 52°S, but is most common in tropical to temperate oceans. It is thought to chiefly inhabit the mesopelagic layer, ranging as deeply as 1,000 m (3,300 ft) up to 200 m (660 ft).

Physical description[edit]

1895 illustration of Regalecus glesne
Skeleton

This species is the world's longest bony fish, reaching a record length of 11 m (36 ft); however, unconfirmed specimens of up to 17 m (56 ft) have been reported.[5] It is commonly measured to 3 m (9.8 ft) in total length. The maximum recorded weight of a giant oarfish is 272 kg (600 lb).

Its shape is ribbonlike, narrow laterally, with a dorsal fin along its entire length from between its eyes to the tip of its tail. The fin rays are soft and may number up to 400 or more. At the head of the fish, the rays are lengthened forming a distinctive red crest. Its pectoral and pelvic fins are nearly adjacent. The pectoral fins are stubby while the pelvic fins are long, single-rayed, and reminiscent of an oar in shape, widening at the tip. Its head is small with the protrusible jaw typical of lampriformes; it has 40 to 58 gill rakers, and no teeth.[6]

The organs of the giant oarfish are concentrated toward the head end of the body, possibly enabling it to survive losing large portions of its tail.[5] It has no swim bladder. The liver of R. glesne is orange or red, the likely result of astaxanthin in its diet.[7] The lateral line begins above and behind the eye then, descending to the lower third of the body, extends to the caudal tip.[8]

The skin of R. glesne is scaleless but covered with tubercles. The skin color is silver with streaks, spots or splotches of black or dark gray, and a bluish or brownish tinge on the head. Its fins, including its long dorsal fin and crest, are red, again probably resulting from its diet.[7]

Behavior[edit]

R. glesne juvenile

Little is known about oarfish behavior. It has been observed swimming by means of its dorsal fin, and also swimming in a vertical position. In 2010, scientists filmed a giant oarfish in the Gulf of Mexico swimming in the mesopelagic layer, the first footage of a reliably identified R. glesne in its natural setting. The footage was caught during a survey, using an ROV in the vicinity of Thunder Horse PDQ, and shows the fish swimming in a columnar orientation, tail downward.[9]

It feeds on krill and other small crustaceans, as well as small fish and squid. It is known to spawn from July to December. The eggs are 2.5 mm (0.098 in) large,[10] and float near the surface until hatching. Its larvae are also observed near the surface during this season.[5] As an adult it is believed to be solitary.

Relationship with humans[edit]

R. glesne is not fished commercially, but is an occasional bycatch in commercial nets, and as such it has been marketed.[1][5]

Because they are not often seen and because of their size, elongated bodies, and appearance, giant oarfish are presumed to be responsible for some sea serpent sightings.[11] Formerly considered rare, the species is now suspected to be comparatively common,[5] although sightings of healthy specimens in their natural habitat remain very unusual.

Members of a BUD/S class display a 23-foot (7 m) giant oarfish discovered by their instructor on the beach of Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in 1996.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Regalecus glesne" in FishBase. February 2013 version.
  2. ^ Jordan, David Starr; Evermann, Barton W. (1898). "Fishes of North and Middle America: 2971. Regalecus glesne". Bulletin of the United States National Museum 3 (47): 2596–2597. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Minelli, Alessandro; Minelli, Maria P. (1997). Great Book of Animals: the Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to 750 Species and their Environments. Philadelphia, Pa.: Courage Books. p. 102. ISBN 0-7624-0137-0. 
  4. ^ Schmitter-Soto, Juan (2008). "The Oarfish, Regalecus glesne (Teleostei: Regalecidae), in the Western Caribbean". Caribbean Journal of Science (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez) 44 (1): 125–128. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Burton, Maurice; Burton, Robert (2002). International Wildlife Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: Marshall Cavendish. pp. 1767–1768. ISBN 0-7614-7279-7. 
  6. ^ Nelson, Joseph S. (2006). Fishes of the World (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 230. ISBN 9780471250319. 
  7. ^ a b Fox, Denis L. (1976). Animal Biochromes and Structural Colours: Physical, Chemical, Distributional & Physiological Features of Coloured Bodies in the Animal World (2d ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 141. ISBN 0-520-02347-1. 
  8. ^ Ruiz, Ana E.; Gosztonyi, Atila E. (2010). "Records of regalecid fishes in Argentine waters". Zootaxa 2509: 62–66. ISSN 1175-5334. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Bourton, Jody (8 February 2010). "Giant bizarre deep sea fish filmed in Gulf of Mexico". BBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Fishes of the NE Atlantic and the Mediterranean: Oar fish (Regalecus glesne)". Marine Species Identification Portal. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Ellis, Richard (2006). Monsters of the Sea (1st Lyons Press ed.). New York, NY: Lyons Press. p. 43. ISBN 1592289673. 
  12. ^ Carstens, John (April 1997). "SEALS find serpent of the sea". All Hands (Naval Media Center): 20–21. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 

References[edit]

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