Oarfish, Regalecus glesne Ascanius 1772

Other Names: Giant Oarfish, King of Herrings, King-of-the-herrings, Oar Fish, Oar-fish, Pacific Oarfish, Streamer Fish

An Oarfish, Regalecus glesne, in the Mediterranean Sea, southeast of Cannes, France, Apr 2016. Source: @Dubas / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

An extremely long, compressed silvery to silvery-blue fish with blue to blackish streaks, blotches and wavy markings. The long-based crimson dorsal fin forms a double crest on the head, and the pelvic fin is a single elongate ribbon-like ray. 
An Oarfish on Opal Reef off Port Douglas, Queensland
Video of an Oarfish filmed by an ROV in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico.
An Oarfish in the shallows - Baja, California.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Regalecus glesne in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1506

Oarfish, Regalecus glesne Ascanius 1772

More Info


Off the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, to off South Australia and Rottnest Island, Western Australia, including around Tasmania. Although usually inhabiting the open ocean, many records are based on specimens collected close to shore, or washed ashore, because of similarity of two species in Australia, many records probably unreliable. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in temperate and subtropical waters, usually in the mesopelagic zone, 200-1000 m.


Feeds on plankton such as deep-sea shrimps, small fishes, pelagic crustaceans and squids, by filtering them from the water column with specialized gill rakers.


This is the longest bony fish alive in the world., and is may have been responsible for some historic 'sea serpent' sightings.


The species is named for the type locality,  Glesvaer (= Glesne), near Bergen, Norway.

Species Citation

Regalecus glesne Ascanius 1772. Icones rerum naturalium ou figures enluminées d'histoire naturelle du Nord. Cah. 2: 5, pl. 11. Type locality: Glesvaer (= Glesne), near Bergen, Norway.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Oarfish, Regalecus glesne Ascanius 1772


Ascanius, P. 1772. Icones rerum naturalium ou figures enluminées d'histoire naturelle du Nord. Cah. 2 pp. 1–8 pls 11–20 Copenhagen.

Benfield, M.C., Cook, S., Sharuga, S. & Valentine, M.M. 2013. Five in situ observations of live oarfish Regalecus glesne (Regalecidae) by remotely operated vehicles in the oceanic waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Fish Biology:  https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.12144

Bray, D.J. 2008. Family Regalecidae. pp. 200 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1835. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 10 482 pp. pls 280-306. (described as Regalecus banksii, type locality Filey Bay, Yorkshire, England)

De Vis, C.W. 1891. Exhibits and descriptions. In, Proceedings of the Annual meeting including the President's address (with plates) and register of members for 1889–90. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 7(2): 1-48 (described as Regalecus masteri, nomen nudum)

De Vis, C.W. 1892. The ribbon fish (a Regalecus in Queensland waters). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 8(4): 109-113  (described as Regalecus masteri,type locality near the Tweed River, Queensland)

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Families Lampridae, Veliferidae, Lophotidae, Trachipteridae, Regalecidae, Fistulariidae. pp. 427-435 figs 382-387 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. 

Haast, J.F.J. von 1878. Notes on Regalecus pacificus, a new species of ribbon-fish from the New Zealand sea. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 10(31): 246-250 pl. 7 (described as Regalecus pacificus, type locality New Brighton beach, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I.  2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & A. Hoschke (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Australia : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. 

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. 

McCoySee ref at BHL
Olney, J.E. 1999. Families Veliferidae, Lamprididae, Stylephoridae, Lophotidae, Radiicephalidae, Trachipteridae, Regalecidae. pp. 1966-1975 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068. 

Roberts, T.R. 2012. Systematics, biology, and distribution of the species of the oceanic oarfish genus Regalecus (Teleostei, Lampridiformes, Regalecidae). Mémoires du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris (N.S.) [1993-2016] A Zoologie 202: 1-268 

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2015. Regalecus glesne (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190378A115316206. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T190378A21911480.en. Accessed on 04 July 2022.

Stewart, A.L. 2015. Families Veliferidae, Lampridae, Lophotidae, Trachipteridae, Regalecidae. pp. 682-697 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Sutton, T.T., Hulley, P.A., Wienerroither, R., Zaera-Perez, D. & Paxton, J.R. 2020. Identification guide to the mesopelagic fishes of the Central and South East Atlantic Ocean. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome: i-xvi + 1-327. https://doi.org/10.4060/cb0365en

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37272002

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:to 1000 m

Habitat:Pelagic, mesopelagic

Max Size:1700 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map