A giant oarfish, also known as an “earthquake” fish, was filmed by divers in shallow waters off the coast of Taiwan. The elongated fish is usually found 3,000 feet below water.
Diving instructor Wang Cheng-ru happened upon the fish off near New Taipei’s Ruifang District. Local legend and tradition say that the fish only rises from the deep before or after an earthquake — earning it the “doomsday fish” moniker.
However, Cheng-ru believes that the fish was rising to the surface as a result of injury. In the footage, it has clear wounds in its body in the form of large holes.
“The wounds on the giant oarfish may have been the result of a cookiecutter shark [or cigar shark] attack,” Cheng-ru tells Newsweek. “It must have been dying, so it swam into shallower waters.”
The creature is estimated to be around six and half feet long (two meters) and Cheng-ru captured footage of himself with several divers swimming near the fish, mesmerized by its presence.
Most people encounter oarfish when a dead one washes up on land, very rarely is it observed swimming in its natural habitat — 650 to 3,300 feet deep in the sea.
“Many amazing animals can be found off Taiwan’s northeast coast, and the views underwater are very beautiful, but it was my first encounter with a giant oarfish,” Wang tells Newsweek.
Oarfish can grow up to 26 feet long, with unofficial reports citing that they can grow up to 50 feet long. Many speculate that they are the source of sea-monster legends.
In 2022, an oarfish was caught off the coast of Chile which got locals there worried that a natural disaster was imminent. But their fears proved unfounded.
In Japan, giant oarfish is known as the “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace.” They are said to be a harbinger of doom, but scientists do not submit to that theory.
More deep-sea adventures can be found on Cheng-ru’s Instagram.
Image credits: All photos by Wang Cheng-ru.