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A king of the herring caught on seas off Taitung

A king of the herring caught on seas off Taitung

Taipei, June 1 (CNA) A king of the herring caused a small stir at a fishing port in Taitung County, southeastern Taiwan, Monday, with some local people fearing it was a sign of earthquake.
A local fishing boat, the "Sheng Fa Tsai, " caught the rarely-seen fish the previous night in waters off Chenggong Township.
The Sheng Fa Tsai skipper, Tung Chin-hsing, said his crew spotted the fish at around 11 p.m. after seeing a long silver strip glittering on the water.
Before gathering it on to the boat, the crew did not recognize it is a king of the herring, a ribbon-shaped oarfish with a silver-gray glittery body and a red dorsal that can stretch up to 11 meters long.
It is known locally as the "king of dragons, " said to rule the sea in Taiwanese folks tales, Tung said.
"It was the first time I've seen the legendary king of dragons over the past 30 years," Tung said.
The 5-meter-long oarfish drew plenty of attention while on display at Singang fishing port, but no vendors dared to handle the fish due to the legends surrounding the obscure creature.
Some said it is an "earthquake fish" related to the occurrence of an earthquake. Some believed catching the "king of dragons" might trigger a disaster while others said it might bring good luck.
A vendor, nicknamed A Chin, rejected Tung's request to sell it as food, saying she "does not know whether the fish good or bad. It is better not to touch it." Eventually, a buyer took it home for NT$2,000, saying he planned to prepare it for display in his home.
Ho Yuan-hsin, a researcher at the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center run by the Council of Agriculture, said the fish, also called a "messenger from the dragon palace" by local people, usually lives at a depth of between 50 meters and 250 meters.
It might have been sick, or something unusual had happened on the seabed that caused the fish to linger at the surface of the sea, Ho said.
(By Elizabeth Hsu)