If you love sea creatures, you may have heard of the giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne). The longest bony fish alive, they can grow up to 8 m (26 ft) in length and are believed to be behind many of the sea serpent tales transmitted throughout the ages.

Another way you may have seen one is if you've played Animal Crossing: New Leaf or New Horizons, where you can see them in the ocean, fish them, and find them in the aquarium swimming in the deep sea tank.

The elusive creatures are denizens of the deep, but they have a habit of lingering near the surface when they are ill or near death. This is probably how the Kinosaki Marine World in Hyogo Prefecture ended up in the custody of a living specimen which they displayed briefly on February 7th before they were obliged to end the display because it had died.

The display went viral largely thanks to the following video by hiroki.imaz (@sounann) who, according to his Twitter profile, handles marketing and HR for aquariums.

"They succeeded in displaying a giant oarfish alive! It's like Animal Crossing in real life!"

On their homepage, Kinosaki Marine World explains:

On February 7, 2021, a giant oarfish was captured at Takeno Beach near our museum, and we acquired it. On the same day, we exhibited it in a live state for a few hours.

It was later confirmed to have died on the same day, and we plan to preserve it as a specimen for ecological research.

Kinosaki Marine World official website

For those who want to see more of the majestic, albeit weakened and tattered creature, Kinosaki Marine World posted a 24-minute clip on their Instagram account:

On Twitter, the video elicited numerous comments.

  • "I've caught one of these in Animal Crossing"
  • "Even if they were to be returned to the ocean, it would be impossible for a specimen in this state to survive (...) We should observe and study it so that we can protect more of them in the future. Even if we only learn one new characteristic, it will change how we treat the creature. Maybe then, we will be able to return them to the sea."
  • "The reason (its fins are) so tattered is because it was caught in a net...I know some people would say they should release it, but deep-sea fish can only live for a few hours when they are caught in a net... (tears) Thank you very much for the precious video."
  • "(...)They are doomed to die when they come to the surface. Either this specimen detached its own tail, or it was preyed upon by other creatures... I'd like to think that the aquarium took it in its already weakened state caught in the net, and it spent its last hours in a safe place."

Although it is sad to consider that the creature was at the end of its life when it arrived at the aquarium, for those who have only seen them as taxidermic specimens in a museum or recreated in pixel form in a game, it was a very rare opportunity to see a living giant oarfish.

By - Ben K.