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Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan

6-meter 'Dragon Palace Messenger' caught off coast of Taitung after heavy plum rains

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Lin holding huge oarfish that he caught on Thursday (June 9). 

Lin holding huge oarfish that he caught on Thursday (June 9).  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese fisherman on Thursday (June 9) caught a massive oarfish (Regalecus russelii) off the eastern coast that was even bigger than an impressive specimen caught in 2020.

That afternoon, 31-year-old fisherman Lin I-fan (林奕帆) went angling off the coast of Xianglan Village in Taitung County's Taimali Township. At around 2 p.m., he detected movement and judging by the steep angle that his fishing rod suddenly bent, his intuition told him that he had hooked a huge fish, reported Liberty Times.

Lin said that the force with which the fish fought was tremendous. He tried to reel the oarfish in several times, but it kept managing to pull away.

After a back and forth battle that lasted a full 40 minutes, Lin was finally able to capture the leviathan. When he brought the fish ashore, other fishermen rushed to take photos of the gargantuan sea creature that was found to be over six meters in length and weighing 130 kilograms.

Ho Yuan-hsing (何源興), director of the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center Fisheries Research Institute, told the news agency that the oarfish caught is a Russell's oarfish (Regalecus russelii) and is commonly known in Taiwan as the "Dragon Palace Messenger," or "earthquake fish." Ho said that it is a species of oarfish in the family Regalecidae.

This oarfish was considerably long, and it may have been brought to shallow waters by some changes in turbidity or in the seabed environment due to the recent heavy plum rains, said Ho. The expert said that oarfish usually only appear after they have been injured or become ill and are washed ashore by waves.

Ho said that this is the first time he has heard of an oarfish being caught by fishermen. When oarfish are caught alive, they are considered to be very healthy because sick fish generally do not eat bait, said Ho.

Lin told the media that he caught the oarfish with a fishing lure.

On Nov. 6, fishermen caught an oarfish that was 490 centimeters long and weighed about 45 kilograms. It was caught off the coast of Dong'ao in Yilan County and was purchased by the owner of Fumei Huo Seafood Restaurant (富美活海鮮餐廳) for NT$16,000 (US$560).

Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan
(CNA photo)

Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan
(CNA photo)

Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan
(Lin I-fan photo)

Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan
(Lin I-fan photo)

Huge 'earthquake fish' caught in eastern Taiwan
(Lin I-fan photo)