Regalecus Glesne



Offshore, Open Ocean

60 - 600 pounds

120" - 312"

King Of Herrings

Also Known As: giant oarfish, Pacific oarfish, ribbonfish, and streamer fish

King of Herrings (Regalecus glesne) Fish Description

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 Its head is quite small but equipped with a protrusible (can be extended and withdrawn at will) jaw.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.


Diet and Size

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. 


King of Herrings Interesting Facts

  • Biggest King of Herrings on record measures twenty-six feet long and weighs a whopping six hundred pounds.
  • There are some unconfirmed reports of thirty-six-foot King of Herrings sightings.
  • The King of Herrings is the world’s longest bony fish according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • The King of Herrings is also called Giant Oarfish, Ribbon Fish, or Streamer Fish.
  • It’s called the King of Herrings not only because of some resemblance to the much smaller fish but was said to be seen swimming in front of herring shoals.
  • Seeing a King of Herrings swimming in the water is quite uncommon—the only time people would have a chance to see it is when it is found dead either floating on the surface or when it gets washed ashore.
  • Due to its long and menacing appearance, it’s presumed to be where the legends of sea monsters come from.
  • It mostly lives a solitary life except during spawning seasons.
  • The King of Herrings doesn’t have any known natural predators; although it’s possible some sharks eat them.
  • Its flesh is inedible due to its flabby and gelatinous texture.
  • It’s sometimes called “earthquake fish” as it is said that people could “forecast” earthquakes if many dead or dying fish are found washed ashore.


Fishing Tips

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.


King of Herrings Habitat and Distribution

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.