Regalecus Glesne
Oarfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Regalecus Glesne
Other names Giant Oarfish, King of Herrings, Pacific Oarfish, Streamer Fish
Size Up to 11 m (36 ft)
Weight Up to 272 kg (600 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Deepsea, oceanic waters in the mid to upper water columns
Depth Range 200 - 1,000 m (3,280 ft)
Oarfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Oarfish, also known as the “King of herrings” can be found in various locations around Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, and offshore waters along the eastern, southern, and west coasts. This includes Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
  • Oarfish are characterised by their distinct appearance. They have long, slender bodies that can reach lengths of a few metres, making them one of the longest bony fish species in the world. They have a silver-coloured body with a row of reddish-brown dorsal fin rays along their back.
  • These fish possess a prominent, sail-like dorsal fin that runs the entire length of their body. The fin can be raised or lowered to help with manoeuvring through the water.
  • Oarfish feed on a diet consisting mainly of small fish, squid, and plankton. They have a long, tubular mouth with small teeth that enable them to capture and consume their prey.
  • These fish are primarily solitary and tend to swim alone or in small groups. They are not known to form large schools or exhibit strong social behaviours.
  • They have been a subject of various legends and folklore due to its rare appearances near the water’s surface. In some cultures, it is considered a harbinger of earthquakes or storms.
  • Oarfish have been observed to exhibit bioluminescent behaviour. Certain species of Oarfish can produce light through specialised organs called photophores, which may serve various purposes, including communication and camouflage.
  • They possess a unique adaptation known as lateral line organs. These sensory structures allow them to detect vibrations and changes in water pressure, helping them navigate and locate prey in their dark, deep-sea environment.
  • Breeding habits of the Oarfish are not well-documented, but they are believed to be pelagic spawners. The exact timing and location of their breeding season in Australian waters are not widely known.
  • They have been known to live up to 25 years with a average lifespan of 10.
Species Interaction

Snorkeling & Diving, Elusive Species

Observing Oarfish in the wild can be a rare and awe-inspiring experience for snorkelers and divers. However, since they primarily reside in deep waters, encounters with these fish are infrequent and mainly occur when they are sick or injured, and closer to the water’s surface. They are a elusive species with minimal human contact due to their deep water habitat.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Lampriformes

Family: Regalecidae

Genus: Regalecus

Species: Regalecus Glesne

Conservation Status

In Australia, Oarfish are considered a species of least concern in terms of conservation status. They are not currently listed as threatened or endangered, but their population status is not well-studied.

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Deepsea

Danger: None

Elusive / Overlooked Species

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Deepsea

Danger: None

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