Numerous specimens of large deep-sea fish about whose ecology little is known have been found this winter in coastal areas along the Sea of Japan, such as Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures, a rare phenomenon that has taken local residents by surprise.
The fish, ryugu no tsukai, or giant oarfish, is more than five meters long and is usually found at depths of between 200 meters to 1,000 meters. Uozu Aquarium in Uozu, Toyama Prefecture, preserved in formalin one that washed ashore in Kurobe, in the prefecture, and put it on display.
In Toyama Prefecture, four of the fish have been captured in fixed fishing nets or washed ashore since December, while in Ishikawa Prefecture, more than 10 have been found since November. The fish has also been found off other prefectures, including Kyoto, Shimane and Nagasaki, leaving fishermen in these areas scratching their heads.
Uozu Aquarium said it had never heard of such a large number of ryugu no tsukai being found. "Many of the fish have been washed ashore when a strong wind blew from the sea. I don't know why so many were found almost simultaneously," an aquarium official said.
Staff of a nonprofit organization based in Kanazawa sauteed and ate a four-meter-long ryugu no tsukai that beached in Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture. "It tasted like congealed fat--I didn't like it," a 34-year-old staff member said.