Incredibly rare creature, the tallfin dragonfish, filmed in the depths of California's Monterey Bay

Incredibly rare creature, the tallfin dragonfish, filmed in the depths of California’s Monterey Bay

At first, it appears as a comet burning copper flame in front of distant stars, twinkling on its downward trajectory into the unknown. But instead, we find ourselves in the darkest depths of the deep sea, observing one of the rarest creatures ever captured on film.

Last week, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute shared images of a high-end dragonfish, Bathophilus flemingicaptured well below the California coast from a remote research vessel.

“In over three decades of deep-sea research and over 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times!” the MBARI researchers tweeted alongside images of the fish.

Closer inspection of the dragonfish (family Stomiidae) reveals an HR Giger-like monstrosity, with huge fanged jaws capable of opening wide, over 100 degrees, giving the apex predator the ability to consume prey 50% larger than itself, such as unsuspecting fish and shellfish. An adult highfin dragonfish can grow up to six inches long.

“Some dragonfish dangle a luminescent lure from their chin to lure prey,” explains the MBARI, “when a tasty morsel approaches, their large jaws open wide and their razor-sharp teeth snap shut.”

The rare highfin dragonfish, recently photographed in the depths of Monterey Bay.


The rare highfin dragonfish seen last week is covered in an iridescent mantle of bronze scales. Most dragonfish, however, will never be seen, as they are pigmented with what the institute describes as some of the “blackest blacks known in nature.”

While the species is believed to occasionally dive as much as 4,500ft below the surface, the recent sighting was found at a depth of around 1,000ft during an expedition on the Western Flyer – a large vessel configured to deploy and control smaller remote vehicles that plunge thousands of feet into the ocean.

Learn more about this strange and elusive creature here.

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