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Rare 100-pound opah fish washes ashore in Oregon

Rare opah fish found in Oregon
Posted at 2:19 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 14:19:01-04

Beachgoers in Oregon last week caught a glimpse of a large, rarely-seen fish when a 100-pound opah washed ashore.

The three-and-a-half foot long, silver-and-deep-orange fish washed ashore July 14 on Sunset Beach in Seaside, Oregon, located in the state's northwest corner.

Officials with the Seaside Aquarium said that while it's unclear how the fish died, they found it in "great shape," meaning it likely died near the shoreline.

"It created quite the stir at the Aquarium where folks were encouraged to come take a look at this beautiful and odd looking fish," the aquarium said in a Facebook post.

The Seaside Aquarium said the last time an opah was spotted in the area was in 2009 when a fisherman hooked a 97 pound opah off the Columbia River Mouth.

Not much is known about the opah, which is sometimes referred to as the "moonfish." They typically live deep in the ocean, making it difficult for scientists to track their behavior and environment.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), opah fish are typically found in "tropical and temperate waters."

Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with NOAA, told The Washington Post that the changing climate might be the reason why the rare disc-shaped fish found itself in the Pacific Northwest.

"We are seeing some marine organisms moving northward as ocean temperatures increase," Dewar said.

Officials with the Seaside Aquarium recovered the fish. They say they will freeze the specimen until later this year when they say they'll select a school group to dissect the fish.