King of the Herrings?
Found dying on the beach on 14th April 2007 at the Sands of Wright, South Ronaldsay Orkney by families enjoying the April sunshine, was an unusual fish called a Ribbonfish or Oarfish.
It is extremely rare for these fish to be seen in inshore waters as their normal habitat is the deep water, Mesopelagic “Twilight Zone” of 300 to 1000 meters, out past the edge of the continental shelf.
With its large eyes, the fish stands vertically in the water to pick out its prey against the very faint light that penetrates to these depths.
Some species grow to 50ft long and are probably responsible for the past sightings of mythical sea dragons and sea serpents. They have common names like King of the Salmon and King of the Herrings and from the photograph you can see the resemblance to a super-sized herring in the fish found at the Sands of Wright.
The 5ft long, 1ft wide, but only 1 1/2 inch thick dead fish was brought to the Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium by the Griffiths family of Burray for identification. It is thought to be of the Genus Trachypterus, probably T. articus, the “Dealfish”, although identification is yet to be confirmed.
Contact is being made with the Natural History Museum and the National Aquarium to decide the fate of the now frozen specimen. The fact that the fish has been found so far from what would be considered its normal habitat may be significant and require further scientific investigation.
In any event it would be the intention to display the fish at the Aquarium on some future date and possibly take a casting to construct a life-sized replica to put on permanent display. Anyone with experience of taxidermy or similar projects that may be able to advise, please contact the Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium, Tel 01856 831700!