May 12, 2010

Giant Herring Washes Ashore In Sweden

A maritime museum said Tuesday that a "giant herring" measuring about 11.4 feet has been discovered off Sweden's western coast.

The Regalecus gleans, known as the King of Herrings or Giant Oarfish, was the first such fish found in the Scandinavian country in over 130 years.  The fish was found dead in the small fishing village of Bovallstrand on Sweden's west coast, about 56 miles from Norwegian border.

"Down at the water, there was something big floating. At first we thought it was a big piece of plastic. But then we saw an eye. I went down to check and saw that it was this extremely strange fish," Kurt Ove Eriksson, the passer-by who found the specimen, told daily Svenska Dagbladet.

The rarely seen fish is the world's longest bony fish and can reach up to 39 feet.

"The last time we saw a King of Herrings in Sweden was in 1879," the House of the Sea museum in Lysekil, where the fish was taken to, said in a statement.

"We don't know much about the species," it said, "but believe it lives in deep waters, at least 1000 meters (3280 feet) deep, and many believe it's at the origin of the sea serpent myth," or stories of mythological sea creatures like the Loch Ness Monster.

The dead regalecus was frozen at the museum.  The museum said it had a deep cut through its body and was missing its beautiful, typical black fin.  According to the museum, the fish might be added to an exhibit on sea monsters planned later this year.

Image Courtesy Marine Museum/Roger Jansson