Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Oddball, Colorful Fish a Rare Find on Oregon Coast Beaches

Published 07/14521 at 4:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oddball, Colorful Fish a Rare Find on Oregon Coast Beaches

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

(Seaside, Oregon) – The call surprised crew from the Seaside Aquarium from the get-go, but when the photos came in they were truly floored. What they found on the beach turned out to be a rarity. (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

Those working at the north Oregon coast attraction also attend to calls about stranded creatures on the beaches as part of their work with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This time around, however, even they were surprised. It turned out be a fish rarely seen on beaches here called a moonfish (or opah). It has a lot in common with the Mola mola – or sunfish – which aren't seen that often on beaches as well. Both are spotted on occasion by fishermen, however, but out at sea.

The creature was long dead, but back at the aquarium it created quite a stir for awhile, according to the aquarium's Tiffany Boothe.

This particular opah was 3.5 feet long and 100 pounds, a rather startling find for Chandler and the crew. After getting a report at 8 a.m. and then seeing photographs, crew quickly responded and recovered the fish.

Boothe said Opah can grow as big as 6 feet long and get over 600 pounds.

“That's a pretty cool find for a Wednesday morning,” said aquarium manager Keith Chandler. He also called it "pretty bizarre.".

“They inhabit pelagic (meaning they live in the open ocean), tropical and temperate waters where they feed on krill and squid,” Boothe said.

“I may have seen one years ago that we got that was caught on a fishing boat – a baby one,” Chandler said. Aside from that, there's no instance of an encounter with the aquarium.

Boothe said its eye was almost three inches wide.


“It is reported that their meat tastes like a mix between tuna and swordfish,” Boothe said.

According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), opah is a smart seafood choice as it's managed responsibly and their population is believed to be quite healthy.

The opah is a colorful creature with a lot going on visually. NOAA said the opah's fins and mouths are red, and their eyes are encircled with gold.

Yet not much is known about their biology as they live deep in the ocean, but scientists assume they're much like other palaegic fish. When caught, they're usually about one to six years old, and often a bycatch of fishermen trying to snag swordfish.

“Opah spawn in warm surface waters throughout the year in the tropics and more seasonally in cooler waters,” NOAA said.

This makes them usually residents of places like Hawaii or farther south around California.

So what was this one doing up here? Scientists don't know much about their ecology, Boothe said, but they do have some things in common with the sunfish (Mola mola) that aren’t just visual.

“They come up here from time to time in the summer just like Mola mola,” Boothe said. “Rarely do we see them washed ashore though. They follow their food in the warm water current offshore. We really don’t know how many or how often. Fisherman will see them more frequently than beachgoers.”

She also noted they are one of very few fish that can raise their body temperature above that of the ambient water temperature.

Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


MORE PHOTOS BELOW









More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....


Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Hordes of Flying Carpenter Ants Along Oregon Coast
They're the breeders of the colonies, getting blown by east winds. Sciences, south coast
Beware of Bears on Oregon Coast Due to Late Berry Crops, Say Officials
Spotting a bear on the coast may become uncomfortably easy. Sciences
Oregon Coast Aquarium Adds Some Attractions, Means for Play
Nature Play Area, Outdoor Amphitheater and a new feature called the headwaters. Newport, kids
Curtis Salgado, Blues Artist Who Inspired Belushi, Returns to Central Oregon ...
One of the Pacific Northwest's more powerful musical treasures July 15
Cool Coves on Oregon Coast at Brookings, Seaside, Yachats, Coos Bay
There's more beneath their surface, and other layers to check out. South Coast, Travel tips, sciences, kids
Reflections on - and in - the Oregon Coast: photo essay of the surreal
Most striking is that glassy surface the beach can acquire, creating a magical mirror
Explore A Distinctive Oregon Coast Ecosystem with July 1 Netarts Spit Hike Ev...
Netarts Spit: Dunes, Birds, and More happens July 1. Oceanside events
On Edge of Central and South Oregon Coast, Florence's Killer Plants, Aerial V...
Trails, horses, wilderness lakes, campgrounds, some particularly strange creatures

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted