This Anglerfish Cracks a Creepy Smile Like the Joker

There are still so many mysteries in the ocean! Apparently batfish exist. And goosefish. I learned about both today when the The Ocean Exploration Trust shared a video while exploring the seafloor. The Exploration Vehicle (E/V) Nautilus streams footage from its ROV (remotely-operated vehicle). And includes lives commentary from the team onboard the ship. In this video, the ROV zooms in on a weird looking fish. This fish has a huge mouth and toothy smile that reminds me of the Joker from The Batman‘s deleted scene.

The team identifies it as a batfish but updated the description later. It’s actually a goosefish. Both are types of anglerfish. There are over 200 known species, so the team’s mistake is understandable. And this way we get to learn about both the batfish and goosefish!

The team spotted the fish on the seafloor at a depth of 1,091 meters, or roughly 2/3 of a mile. The two green dots are scaling lasers mounted on the ROV. They are 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) apart, so the fish is about 40 cm long. Both batfish and goosefish are dorsoventrally compressed, meaning flattened on both the top and bottom of their bodies. Basically, they are pancake shaped, like rays and halibut.

Batfish have a lure above their mouth to attract prey, screenshot from E/V Nautilus YouTube video of fish with a smile.
Ocean Exploration Trust

Someone in the video asks about the chin lure. When you look closely, you can tell that it’s actually based above the mouth. This lure, present on all anglerfish, moves up and down. It looks and acts like the fishing rod an angler would use, which is how they get their name. But it is actually a modified dorsal fin. Fish dorsal fins evolve for different purposes. Unlike the anglerfish in Finding Nemo, batfish lures don’t glow. Instead, they release chemicals that attract prey through smell.

The Nautilus‘ current expedition is exploring the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The E/V Nautilus YouTube channel is full of undersea videos. Even when they’re not specifically studying animals, the team is always excited to spot some. Highlights include octopus, whale carcasses, and piglet squids.

The livestream includes voices from scientists, science communicators, and the ROV pilot. But I cannot get past this fish and its unnerving smile that is a wide as the Joker’s grin. With so much left to explore in the ocean, it’s cool to hear from the people on the front lines.

Featured Image: Ocean Exploration Trust

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