? Larval Oarfish (Regalecus)

© 2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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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 him!

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.


Larval Left-eye Flounder (Bothus)

© 2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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