Feast your eyes on this spectacular rare dragonfish glistening in the ocean

Feast your eyes on this spectacular rare dragonfish glistening in the ocean

Deep under the waters of Monterey Bay, California researchers have filmed an extremely rare deep-sea fish.

At first glance, the little guy looks like a shimmering bronze cigar floating on its tip, but the feverish movement of its tail reveals the creature’s true identity.

The little bronze beauty is known to scientists as a high-finned dragonfish (Bathophilus flemingi), and of all the dragonfish of the depths of Monterey Bay, it is one of the rarest.

“In over three decades of deep-sea research and over 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times!” researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently tweeted next to the pictures of the fish.

The individual was filmed during a recent expedition on MBARI’s Western Flyer, a large vessel designed to deploy and control remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as they plunge thousands of miles under the sea.

In this case, the images were taken at a depth of almost 300 meters (1,000 feet) and, at first glance, the dragonfish was heading even deeper.

Dragonfish are very capable swimmers, as you can see in the MBARI images, but when they hunt they quietly hide in the dark and wait.

While the highfin dragonfish is covered in an iridescent mantle of bronze scales, other species are not as colorful. In fact, dragonfish can be pigmented with some of the blackest blacks found in nature.

With a smile full of razor-sharp teeth, these predators must look downright terrifying to small fish and crustaceans, as they emerge from deep darkness to gobble up their prey.

The Pacific Black Dragon (Idiacanthus antrostomus). (© 2015 MBARI)

Some dragonfish even have scary, glowing red eyes that they use as “spotlights” for feeding.

DragonfishRedEyesThe Shining Movable Jaw (Aristostomias scintillans). (© 2007 MBARI)

Others use bioluminescent “fishing rods” strapped to their chins to lure prey.

dragonfish lureThe black-bellied dragonfish (stomias attract). (© 2003 MBARI)

Compared to its relatives, the premium dragonfish looks quite cute and colorful. But it’s based on a biased perspective.

When removed from an ROV’s light, the highfin’s bronze skin likely absorbs wavelengths of blue light to render it nearly invisible, according to Live Science reports.

Combined with the fact that this fish is no more than 16 centimeters long (6 inches), it’s a real needle in a haystack.

Who knows when researchers will see it again.


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