Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) were using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the Monterey Canyon ocean trench, a steep seafloor canyon in California that extends about 95 miles (153 kilometers) into the Pacific Ocean.
The robotic sub came across the anglerfish around 1,968 feet (600 meters) below the surface. The researchers used the ROV to take pictures and video of the anglerfish, and then captured the deep-sea creature and brought it back to MBARI for closer study.
The anglerfish is named for the long strip of flesh that sticks out of its head. This “fishing pole” has a luminous bulb that looks irresistible to smaller prey fish or squid swimming through deep and dark waters. Once the prey gets too close, the anglerfish snatches it with its long, needlelike teeth.
Anglerfish are the most rarely seen of all deep-sea fish, said senior scientist Bruce Robison in a video created by MBARI. The fish captured by MBARI researchers is only 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) long. The anglerfish is being kept in a tank at MBARI, but the researchers don’t expect it to live very long.
MBARI marine scientists think this is the first video footage captured of this anglerfish species. The video shows that the fish has a broken tooth on the left side of its jaw, and scientists are not sure if the tooth will grow back once it falls out.
The milky eyes of the anglerfish are useless in the dark ocean depths where it lives. Instead, the fish relies on the small white dots covering its body, which it uses to sense the movement of other fish around it.