The story recounted about Roger Steene and I having a brief
visitation, off Lizard Island, from what we believe was a larval
oarfish has garnered a bit more comment.
The larval fish depicted on our website show two different
individuals (see larval
forms image catalogue). One is definitely a pre-metamorphosis
larval Bothid or left-eye flounder (see below). The right-eyed
group include the giant Pacific halibut and the even more gigantic
Atlantic halibut, forty year old females of which may weigh
700 pounds. To further complicate this diversion of the two
groups, in the North Pacific starry flounder (Platichthys)
the migration of the eye during metamorphosis varies with locality!
To continue, the other larval fish is a younger specimen and
Dr. Jeff Leis from the Australian Museum tells us this is also
a Bothid (see above). The morphology is however very different
and the enlarged twin unicorn spikes, or dorsal fin rays, atop
the head make me question its relationship to the other one
- but maybe losing one is all part of the metamorphosis process.
Roger and I still like to think our encounter was with a larval
oarfish (Regalecus), but capture of these other specimens,
alive, from only two miles distant, make me a little cautious
about being too emphatic - but who's to know? Anyone who is
rash enough to work with Roger has to be prepared for the very
strangest of encounters - none more alarming that bumping into
We would always welcome any feedback concerning the identification
of this unusual creature, or indeed from anyone that has encountered
such a specimen in the field or laboratory.