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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Opah Lampris guttatus

Roaming the oceans worldwide, the opah leads a nomadic existence. Shaped like a gigantic oval dinner plate, this colorful fish is a steely blue and green with silvery spots and red fins. Although it is toothless, the opah is an efficient hunter, catching squid and small fish. Rather than using its tail to swim, like most fish, it flies through the water by beating its long, narrow pectoral fins like a pair of wings.

Opah regularly reach a weight of 110 lb (50 kg), although specimens as heavy as 600 lb (270 kg) have been reported. They spawn in the spring, laying eggs midwater, which hatch into larvae after 21 days. Also known as the moonfish, the opah is a valuable food fish in the Hawaiian Islands and on the west coast of mainland US. It is caught on long lines and with gill nets.

Opah habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Lampriformes
  • Length Up to 6 ft (2 m)
  • Weight 110–600 lb (50–275 kg)
  • Depth 330–1,300 ft (100–400 m)
  • Distribution Tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters worldwide