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Meet the Oarfish: Terrifying Sea Serpent of Folklore

Image credit: Tumblr

I don’t particularly like to go into the ocean. There’s a lot you can’t see swimming around in there. Even when it’s not dangerous, I don’t particularly relish the thought of swimming with it.

Maybe it’s because of the time I went snorkeling and people started throwing food over the side of the boat, so that suddenly I was positively swarmed by fish. Touching me. (Shudder)

Well after learning about the creature called the giant oarfish, I may never go in the water again.

What is an oarfish, you ask?

Well, they’re in the same family as eels (Actinopterygi), but they’re not eels.

Recently, a Tumblr user asked to be told about something anxiety producing, and “Be careful what you wish for,” would be an understated warning because user @biggest-gaudiest-patronuses brought the goods.

digitalrabbit asked: Hey I heard you're giving out anxiety, can I have 1 anxiety please? biggest-gaudiest-patronuses answered: yes, here is a baby oarfish.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

Because of the fish’s length, users were surprised to read it was a baby, and @biggest-gaudiest-patronuses was happy to provide more detailed information.

imaramennoodle: that's a BABY? biggest-gaudiest-patronuses: boy howdy are you in for a treat! introducing, the Oarfish!

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

Turns out, they’re fairly mysterious creatures, which is probably why they’re the stuff of Japanese folklore, where they’re known as “the Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace.”

The user shared bigger and bigger examples of the creature, and it gives me the willies.

Not much is known about Oarfish. Their maximum length is debatable, though there are reports of specimen up to 56 ft long. They live at great depths, and are rarely observed alive.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

I’m sorry, but it has to be said…

I think they’re going to need a bigger boat.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

No one bothered to question who @biggest-gaudiest-patronuses was, or why they had so many pictures close to hand and sounded like the world’s foremost authority on wicked-long fish.

Yeah. These children get long. Like I said, length-variable. That one's only about 28 feet long. So, like, imagine that but double.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

The user then zoomed in for a close-up on the faces of the people and the fish, and dropped a little more knowledge.

Look how excited everyone is. Well, everyone but the fish. Oh, fun fact! They can self-amputate up to 3/4th of their body. Lizard-style.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

Close up, the fish just looks like any other fish.
Maybe even less mean-looking than an eel.

Historically, Oarfish have been described as sea serpents, and are probably responsible for a fair portion of myths. In Japanese folklore, their appearance portends earthquakes. Though rarely seen, Oarfish live in every ocean. All around the world. Everywhere. No matter what coastline you're on, they're always there.Just a few thousand feet below water. Waiting.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

Watching. Fireball-me: Jesus that was more than 1 anxiety! biggest-gaudiest-patronuses: I am a wholesale provider.

Image credit: Tumblr via Cheezburger

(Double shudder.)

I mean. They seem pretty harmless, but I’m still probably going to have nightmares about them.

What do you think of this ridiculously long fish? Tell us in the comments.