Of all the scary-looking organisms that patrol the oceans’ depths, the anglerfish might be the creepiest. And we just got the best video yet of one up close.
Anglerfish are a mysterious, creepy, and downright ugly type of fish that lives in some of the deepest and darkest parts of the oceans. Typically found in the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, anglerfish are dark grey or dark brown, have massive heads, enormous mouths filled with sharp translucent teeth, and can grow to be as long as 3.3 feet.
There are more than 200 types of anglerfish, and only the females sport the most most distinctive feature: a piece of dorsal spine that sticks up above their mouths like a fishing pole. And it acts like a fishing pole, too. Tipped with a small portion of bioluminous flesh, this lightbulb baits prey, bringing them close enough for the female anglerfish to swallow a meal in one big gulp.
Male anglerfish have a bit of a raw deal. Without the built-in illuminating fishing pole, they go through life as parasites. Significantly smaller than the females, young male anglerfish will latch onto a female with his teeth and fuse with her. He’ll connect to her skin and bloodstream, ultimately losing all his own organs save his testes. And female anglerfish aren’t monogamous, if you could consider this parasitic arrangement a relationship. A female can carry multiple males (read: testes) at a time.
Anglerfish have been recorded less than six times, but this latest video might be the deepest sighting of a live anglerfish ever captured.
The video shows a Black Seadevil anglerfish, and it was captured by Bruce Robison and his team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. The team caught the fish 1,900 feet underwater in the Monterey Canyon using a remotely operated vehicle called Don Ricketts. But it’s not a massive one. At just three and a half inches long, it’s less terrifying than it looks in pictures. Still pretty ugly though.
Feature Image via MBARI on You Tube