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Offshore, Open Ocean
60 - 600 pounds
120" - 312"
With its long, serpentine body that can grow as much as thirty-six feet long, the King of Herrings is definitely an intimidating sight and quite possibly the source from which legends of sea monsters come from.
This unique fish looks like a ribbon with its long, flat tapering body that is metallic silver all over save for the dark uneven splotches on its sides. Its silver body doesn’t have any scales; instead, it’s covered with silvery guanine. All its fins are red including its long dorsal fin that runs the whole length of its body, and its long, oar-shaped pelvic fins. Its head is quite small but equipped with a protrusible (can be extended and withdrawn at will) jaw. Another unique thing about this fish is that it either has a really small tail fin or it doesn’t have any.
Aside from its uncanny appearance, the King of Herrings also has a rather unique behavior as well as eating and reproduction habits. Although the fish is rarely observed swimming in its natural habitat, it’s been filmed swimming in a vertical position, with the head on top and the tail downward. Little is known about its spawning behavior. What is known is that spawning usually occurs between July and December and the fertilized eggs are left on the surface of the ocean.
Although there are unconfirmed reports of a 36-foot King of Herrings sighting, most sightings and catches tend to be just ten feet long. And because it’s rarely seen swimming in its natural habitat, little is known about its swimming speeds, although it’s been observed to be a “weak” swimmer.
Despite its rather menacing appearance, this fish is actually quite harmless as it doesn’t have any teeth and it only feeds on planktons, small crustaceans, and squids.
Due to its extremely rare sightings and inedible meat, the King of Herrings is not really targeted by both recreational anglers and commercial fishers—although it’s sometimes caught as a by-catch by some trawling fishermen.
The King of Herrings can be found pretty much anywhere in the world except in the polar seas. In the US, the fish can be found in both the Pacific and Atlantic sides. In the west, it is found from Topanga Southern California to Baja California. In the east, you can find it from the Carolinas to Florida.
This fish is also known to be pelagic and stays in the open ocean, mostly near the surface. However, the fish have sometimes been observed to swim to a much greater depth of up to 3,280 feet.