Need help IDing this "fire spitting" snake like cr

Apr 8, 2003
Saw this


while surfing.

Some say the creature is freshwater somewhere in (mekong river) and was caught by american service men in 1968. Disputes articles say it must be from the deep sea ocean.

What would you name this one Steve ? :wink:

Locals claim it spit fires, there's a tour and people flock to see this phenomenon each year (The Full Moon of the eleventh Lunar Month). Some say its combustion of methane packed under the floor of the Mekong river not any animal spitting fire.

here's an article about it,00.html

Some say its an oar fish
Oarfish - Deep Sea Creatures on Sea and Sky
Giant Oarfish
but I like the fire spitting story better.

first look, before even reading below, and I said "oarfish"...nice big one though! Perhaps they are very flatulent, and when locals nearby are smoking, there is an explosive reaction??? :smile:
Hello SHF2,

Greg is right, that's definitely an oarfish. I've seen that photo before; those are Navy SEALs holding it up. (No idea if they killed it with their bare hands, but they wouldn't mind us believing that.) You can get Oarfish specs at

Thailand has a mythical river beast, very simillar to the Mekong variety you describe, called the Naga.

Yours truly,

I was lucky enough to see an oarfish a couple of years ago pickled in preservative at a special exhibition of Forteana. Very impressive animal indeed.

Sizes of this animal seem to banded about like Architeuthis maximum sizes; I've estimates ranging from 30-60ft!

Apparantly one was caught in February this year off the English coast, it makes rather amusing reading as the woman who caught it chopped it up and froze the specimen in her fridge before scientists got a chance to examine it! Here's a link to the story.....

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Fishy tale of deep sea monster
In one of those bizarre moments of synchronicity/coincidence I saw my second oarfish today.

I decided to go to the Natural History Museum in London and went on a special select tour behind the scenes. It was part of the new 'Darwin Centre' project whereby over the next ten years or so 80% of the museums preserved specimens will become available for the public to observe. (For some idea of numbers, the NHM has, at least, a single example of 60% of all current species, we are talking literally millions of specimens)

With five others I was lucky enough to be ushered in to observe a massive steel room I can only describe as reminiscent to that scene at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' with all those crates. There were hundreds of pickled specimens in jars in this room, mammals to the left of me and fish to the right, including a dozen or so specimens that had actually been collected on the Beagle itself by Charles Darwin. These were in a locked cabinet literally next to me! Incredible!

We were ushered to the end of the room and I pointed out to the tour guide that 'Isn't that an oarfish?' pointing to a particularly grizzly looking tall bottle. There it was, this colossal fish broken-up, concertina fashion, in a jar of ethanol. Indeed, the guide looked amazed that someone recognized it! It was on her handout of the next specimen she was going to show and she congratulated me. Goodness, I felt smug! Then it dawned on me that I had succesfully identified one out of seventy million specimens and felt totally put in my place. The guide then went on to narrate the story described above about the oarfish washed up in Yorkshire lopped up in a freezer before the NHM got their hands on it. (The same story twice in a week, most bizarre.)

If anyone still reading this ever gets a chance to go on the special 'Behind the Scenes' tour at the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum in London, do it. It's great. I also saw a Mesonychoteuthis beak, a head of Architeuthis in ethanol. Chiroteuthis specimens, a jar full of preserved Spirula, picked argonauts and Sepia. Still, I didn't think anyone would be interested in those....................

That is super-cool. If I found myself in close proximity to artifacts from the Beagle, I'd probably go dizzy. Where were the Mesonycho and Archi parts collected from?

Hmm. This might be an uncomfortable subject, but it seems that most anything that washes up on the UK's shores triggers a fierce chopping urge. Is this an atavistic response, the legacy of numerous invasions-by-sea?


Hi Clem,

I must admit, it was pretty amazing to look at those Beagle specimens. They were in a glass fronted locked cabinet and were about a dozen or so in total. The labels were not written by the great man but were, I think, written by the commander of the expedition. Each of them had yellow paint applied to the lid of the jars indicating that they were Type Specimens, the original descibed specimen to which subsequent finds are compared.

I'm afraid I did not note down where the Archi and Messie specimens were discovered and was not allowed to take photographs as flash photography risks damaging the specimens. The Archi head had been retrieved from a whale stomach, was not in prime condition and was somewhat bleached, I think it was found sometime in the seventies. Similarly, the Messie beak had no associated tissue, as far as I could see, and I imagine it may have also been found in a similar manner.

As to your other point about us British chopping anything landing on our shores, well, you can't really blame us. After a succession of well meaning and passive races such as the Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans with Napoleon and Hitler attempting to do the same, you can't really blame us about being paranoid about alien strandings on our shores. I'm off to the beach now to hack something up with a machete.... :twisted:
It is really too bad the "two fat ladies" have passed on, that would have been a great episode " beach animals hacked up and fried in lard". I am extremely envious of the visit to the museum...we are talking about getting across the pond sometime soon, and I will definitely make plans for the back room tour! Thanks!
Phil said:
I was lucky enough to see an oarfish a couple of years ago pickled in preservative at a special exhibition of Forteana. Very impressive animal indeed.

Sizes of this animal seem to banded about like Architeuthis maximum sizes; I've estimates ranging from 30-60ft!

Impressive indeed! I'm also pleasantly surprised to see that the journalists did their homework, identifying the Oarfish as the longest species of bony fish in the sea.

By contrast, the largest (by weight) bony fish in the sea is the Ocean Sunfish or Mola Mola, which looks like a giant fish-head with no body. And the largest fish of any species is the Whale Shark, which of course is cartilaginous rather than bony.

Just showing off.... :P

Tani, Lord High Crashing Bore
Cliff Clavin Institute of Useless Information

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