Story at a glance

  • Oregon’s Seaside Aquarium responded to a call of an “odd” fish that had washed up onto the shore of Sunset Beach on Wednesday.
  • The fish was a 3.5-foot, 100-pound opah, or moonfish — a rare sight for Oregon waters.
  • Opah typically frequent temperate and tropical waters, where they feed on krill and squid.

Staff at Oregon’s Seaside Aquarium received a surprise when they responded to a call of an “odd” fish that had washed up onto the shore of Sunset Beach on Wednesday.

At 3.5 feet long and 100 pounds, the staff recovered the fish, which is known as an opah, or a moonfish — a rare sight for Oregon waters.


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The opah are recognized for their large, round but flat bodies, and shiny silver bellies that meld into shades of orange and red. Although not considered endangered, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, “little research on the basic biology and ecology of opah has been conducted.”

However, opah typically frequent temperate and tropical waters, where they feed on krill and squid, making its appearance on the Oregon coast a sight to see.

"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 wrote on its Facebook.

“I wouldn’t expect an opah that size to normally be off Oregon,” Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with the NOAA Fisheries, told The Washington Post.

The Seaside Aquarium plans to freeze the fish for now, then when the new school year starts, the aquarium is partnering with the Columbia River Maritime Museum to offer a group of students the chance to dissect the fish as an educational opportunity. 


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Published on Jul 19, 2021