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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 10:16 GMT
Fishy tale of deep sea monster
Val Fletcher
Val tied the oarfish to a scaffolder's plank outside her house
A female angler from Teesside caught more than she bargained for when she went fishing for mackerel, and landed a huge rare species of deep sea fish.

Val Fletcher, 40, caught the 11ft 7in-long oarfish monster with a standard rod while night fishing with partner Robert Herrings.

The angler, who is 5ft 4in, and weighs eight stone, took 40 minutes to land the fish, which usually prefers lurking deep in the Atlantic.

Ms Fletcher, of Marine Terrace, Skinningrove, said: "It was a real struggle to get it in, and then when we did nobody knew what it was - it looked prehistoric.

"Nobody in the village could identify it. We tied it to a scaffold plank and it was outside my house for two days while people came to have a look at it."

The oarfish, or Regalecus glesne (king of herrings), is the ancient mariner's legendary sea fish.

'A remarkable catch'

They are the longest bony fish in the sea and have a mane-like crest behind a toothless mouth. They can grow up to 30 feet in length and weigh up to a quarter of a ton.

Bemused biologists have no idea why the deep water creature, usually found in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, was living in the relatively shallow North Sea.

The last one seen in the UK was found in 1981 on a beach at Whitby, North Yorkshire.

Marine expert David Whittaker said: "It is a very remarkable catch, and anyone who finds one should really keep it intact."

The fish, however, has already been cut up into pieces.



The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"It's a monster which surpasses even the most extravagant fisherman's tales"

Angler swept into North Sea
02 Jan 03 |  England

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