Rare 100-Pound Moonfish Washes Up On Oregon Shore

A fish on a counter
Seaside Aquarium

A rarely seen and very unique species of fish recently washed ashore in Northern Oregon.

An Opah, which are also known as moon fish, turned up on Sunset Beach last week. The fish measured roughly 3 and a half feet long and weighed 100-pounds. It’s an absolutely beautiful fish, with bright reddish orange scales, white specs and eyes which appear to feature hints of gold.

The species is capable of growing up to 6-feet long and have been known to tip the scales at more than 600 pounds. They are also the only known warm blooded species of fish, thanks to blood vessels in their gils that allow them to circulate warm blood.

The specimen was collected by the Seaside Aquarium for further inspection and to be studied. The fish was in otherwise good body condition which indicates it was already close to the shore when it died.

According to the Washington Post, Heidi Dewar, a fisheries research biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is perplexed by the location the fish was found.

“I wouldn’t expect an Opah that size to normally be off Oregon.We are seeing some marine organisms moving northward as ocean temperatures increase.”

Though somewhat unexpected in Oregon, the fish are relatively more common off the coast of California.

“The fish are certainly in close proximity to Oregon, so it’s not super surprising. It’s not like it’s a fish from the Southern Hemisphere. 

Not a lot is known about these beautiful fish, so anything we can learn will be beneficial.”

Dewar also added that very little research has been done on moon fish, and there are no methods yet for determining the age of the fish.

The specimen will be frozen until later this year when it will be dissected at the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

“A large fish, rare to the Oregon Coast, was found on Sunset Beach this morning. The 3.5 foot, 100 lbs Opah was reported to the Seaside Aquarium at 8:00 a.m.

After seeing photographs of the unusual fish they quickly responded and recovered the fish. It created quite the stir at the Aquarium where folks were encouraged to come take a look at this beautiful and odd looking fish. Always on the lookout for new educational opportunities, the fish will be frozen until the school year starts.

Partnering with the Columbia River Maritime Museum’s educational director, Nate Sandel, one lucky school group will get the chance to dissect this large fish.

While rare this far north it is not unheard of. According to OregonLive a 97 pound Opah was caught 37 miles off of the Columbia River Mouth in 2009.

Opahs can grow to over 6 feet and weigh over 600 pounds. They inhabit pelagic (meaning they live in the open ocean), tropical and temperate waters where they feed on krill and squid.”

A large fish, rare to the Oregon Coast, was found on Sunset Beach this morning. The 3.5 foot, 100 lbs Opah was reported…

Posted by Seaside Aquarium on Wednesday, July 14, 2021

For more fun facts about moon fish, check out the video below.

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