Extremely rare oarfish captured for first time on Great Barrier Reef

A snorkelling guide on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland has become the first to capture an incredibly rare juvenile oarfish, which can grow up to eight metres long.

Reef guide Tahn Miller had been guiding a group of snorkellers through the shallow Opal Reef, between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, when he noticed a shimmer of light that was the mirror-like, elongated fish gliding past.

Miller was with marine biologist Jorja Gilmore at the time, with both recognising immediately they’d stumbled upon a rare and unique find.

Miller spotted the rare fish while guiding snorkellers on the Great Barrier Reef. (@tahnmiller)

“At first I couldn’t quite place what species of fish it was, but then I saw the shiny mercury-coloured body, two predominant eyes and the ultra-fine dorsal fin running head to tail, undulating like mini waves propelling through the water,” Miller said.

“I knew we had come across something rarely seen on the Great Barrier Reef.

“Luckily, I had my camera and started to film straight away.

“At that moment I felt like the ocean had delivered a secret treasure to us. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.”

The pair returned to their boat to try and identify the fish.

Miller and marine biologists worked to identify the unusual fish. (Games)

“The oarfish wasn’t in any of the reef guidebooks onboard, so we tapped into the Master Reef Guide network and experts from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to help identify the species,” Miller said.

Oarfish are believed to be the world’s longest bony fish and are rarely seen in such shallow water.

The oarfish Miller captured had a body of 35 to 40cm but was one to two metres long when considering its fins.

Oarfish can grow up to eight metres long leading experts to believe the sighted oarfish was a juvenile.

Oarfish are believed to be the longest bony fish and can grow to lengths of eight metres. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dr Tyson R Roberts, a world leading oarfish expert said the oarfish filmed by Miller was the species Regalecus russellirecognisable from its single dorsal fin and several extremely elongated rays.

“This is the first record of this species on the Great Barrier Reef and on the eastern seaboard of Australia,” Roberts said.

“The only other Australian record of Regalecus russelli was at Port Hedland in Western Australia.”

An oarfish captivates tourists in Mexico.

Mysterious creatures of the deep

Miller said people can log their rare finds and help researchers and conservationists with apps like Eye on the Reef.

“The reef has an amazing power to connect human beings with nature. When you see it firsthand it entices you in, you fall in love with this environment and are inspired to protect it,” he said.

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