GENERAL SANTOS CITY –Fishermen recovered before dawn Monday a huge oarfish near the shores of Kiamba town in Sarangani Province, the first for the area in years.
Carmelo Velasco, Kiamba municipal environment and natural resources officer, said the rare fish was spotted by fishermen swimming off Purok Kiblis in Barangay Lomuyon at around 4:30 a.m. but later died and washed ashore.
He said the oarfish was initially seen swimming near the shore and “appeared to be already at a weak state.”
“Not long after it was spotted, (the oarfish) died due to still unknown reasons,” the official said.
Responding municipal environment personnel measured the oarfish at 13 feet and 10 inches long and about 11 inches wide.
Velasco said the recovered oarfish, which is called the “king of herrings,” was the first ever recorded in the municipality.
He said the oarfish was brought to Barangay Poblacion in Kiamba for inspection by representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
A fishery reference website described the oarfish as “large, greatly elongated, pelagic lampriform fish belonging to the small family Regalecidae, and found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen.”
A number of oarfish washed up ashore these past months in parts of Mindanao, triggering belief that they could be related to the recent series of earthquakes, among them the 6.7-magnitude temblor that hit Surigao City and the neighboring areas in February.
Parts of Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental provinces were hit by moderate to strong earthquakes since last week.
Dozens of oarfish, which is known in Japan as “ryugu no tsukai” or “messenger from the sea god’s palace,” were reportedly found by Japanese fishermen before the occurrence of major earthquakes in the past.