A Rare 100-Pound Moonfish Washed up on the Oregon Coast

Its appearance caused “quite the stir,” according to Seaside Aquarium.

An Opah fish, more than 3.5 feet long, washed up on the coast of Oregon's Sunset Beach.Seaside Aquarium/Facebook

This story was originally published by The Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

An unusual sight has appeared on the usually mild northern Oregon coast: a large, washed-up, colorful opah fish, weighing around 100lb.

The opah, or moonfish, is “rare to the Oregon coast,” according to the aquarium in Seaside, a city in the north of the state where the fish appeared on a beach. The fish is more than 3ft long, with a round, orange and silver body dotted with white spots.

Opah can grow to more than 6ft and weigh more than 600lb, living in the open ocean in tropical and temperature waters where they feast on krill and squid. It is unusual, although not unheard of, for them to venture as far north to the normally chillier waters of northern Oregon.

The fish’s appearance caused “quite the stir,” according to Seaside Aquarium, which will freeze the animal until the new school year starts so that “one lucky school group will get the chance to dissect this large fish.”

The Pacific north-west coast of the US has been baked by record temperatures in recent weeks, while a huge heatwave pulsing off the coast of Vancouver caused an estimated one billion marine creatures to die, mussels and clams cooking in their own shells.

Scientists have said such heat would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change, although it’s unclear whether this has had a role in the appearance of the opah in Oregon.

“We are seeing some marine organisms moving northward as ocean temperatures increase,” Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, told the Washington Post, although she added it was hard to say exactly what caused the opah stranding.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate