Black Sea Devil Anglerfish Caught on Video for The First Time in Natural Habitat

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The Black Sea Devil anglerfish was filmed almost 2,000 feet below the surface in the Monterey Canyon off the coast of California. Although the anglerfish has a frightening visage, it is only 3.5-inches long. The footage was filmed from a submersible doing research in the area.

Bruce Robison, Senior Scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) said in a statement, “This is the first time we’ve captured this fish on video in its habitat. Anglerfish, like this Melanocetus, are among the most rarely seen of all deep-sea fishes. The shining spot at the tip of the ‘fishing pole’ projecting from the fish’s head is a glowing lure. The anglerfish uses its light to attract prey in its deep, dark habitat.”

The Anglerfish can live at depths of up to 8,000 feet making it out of the reach of most scuba diving teams.

“Anglers have a remarkable apparatus on their heads, a fishing pole with a luminous lure at the tip, which they use to attract their prey. In the darkness of deep water, they flash the light to attract prey and draw them near the angler’s mouth. When a fish or squid swims up, it is quickly inhaled by the angler’s huge mouth and trapped by its long sharp teeth,” Robison says in the video.

Devil Anglerfish

Not much is known about these deep sea animals, other than their life spans and reproductive process. The specimen filmed was a female. The males are much smaller and are driven to find a mate. Once found, the male attaches itself to the female and fuses with her body. It lives off of the female as a parasite, drawing food and oxygen from the body of the female until it dies. The male can still produce sperm in this state to impregnate the female. The anglerfish is unique in its reproductive process.

“If they don’t find a female, they drown,” said Professor Ted Pietsch, of the University of Washington. “They’re not even properly equipped to eat.”

The MBARI team was researching the quantity of oxygen that deep-sea animals use. As ocean temperatures increase, the quantity of oxygen in the water goes down. Over the past 30 years, the temperature in the Monterey Bay has increased by a tenth of a degree.