Scientists discover fish that can use their fins as FEET 3,000-feet below the surface of the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico
- Scientists on a year-long trip studying deep sea life discovered a rare fish
- Called Schaefer’s anglerfish, it can use its fins to walk as if they were feet
- The fish have a distinctively thick skin and can eat other fish twice their size
A group of scientists on a year-long research trip have captured footage of a rare deep sea fish that can use its fins as if they were feet.
Called Schaefer’s anglerfish (Sladenia shaefersi), the long flat creature can grow to almost five feet and weigh as much as 110 pounds.
It has thick and gummy skin with a distinctively mottled pattern that allows it to blend into its murky deep sea surroundings, where it subsists on a diet of other fish and can consume animals almost twice its own size.
A team of researchers in the Gulf of Mexico recorded new footage of a rare Schaefer’s anglerfish (pictured above), which can use its fins as if they were feet
The fish was discovered around 3,000 feet below the ocean surface near Dry Tortugas, a small island in the Gulf of Mexico.
It was one of the final stops on a year-long expedition conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Exploration and Research office.
‘This region has extensive, yet poorly known deep seafloor and midwater habitats, as well as unique geological features,’ NOAA wrote in a description of the mission, reported by Newsweek.
‘Data from this expedition will enable scientists and managers to build a better understanding of the diversity and distribution of deepwater habitats in this region, allowing for informed resource management decisions.’
Schaefer’s Anglerfish were first discovered in 1976, off the coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Sea.
National Geographic described the carnivorous species as ‘possibly the ugliest animal on the planet, and it lives in what is easily Earth’s most inhospitable habitat: the lonely, lightless bottom of the sea.’
Schaefer’s anglerfish can grow to be almost five feet long and can eat other fish almost twice their size
Because of the extreme depth they prefer, researchers used a remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, to explore the seafloor.
When they first stumbled across the anglerfish, they thought it was a rock that had somehow ended up precariously on top of a piece of coral.
When they got closer they discovered it was actually an angler fish standing on its fins like small feet.
Because the fish prefer deep sea habitats, between 3,000 and 3,100 feet below the surface, researchers used a remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, (pictured above) to collect images and video
Anglerfish are not just known for their unusual appearance but the particular intensity of their mating habits.
The females typically have long spiky spines protruding from their backs, from which small clumps of flesh hang like lures.
Anglerfish mate through sexual parasitism, in which males clamp onto the bodies of females and fuse together, sharing one bloodstream, something that causes the male’s organs to wither, leaving only skin and testes behind
Male anglerfish clamp on to females, and gradually fuse their bodies and share the same bloodstream.
This link causes the male’s internal organs and eyes to wither away, leaving only skin and testes behind.
Female anglerfish have been observed carrying as many as six parasitic males on their backs.
WHAT IS SEXUAL PARASITISM?
A female fanfin seadevil anglerfish is shown
Many species of deep-sea anglerfish are known to engage in a type of reproduction known as sexual parasitism.
While they aren’t the only creatures to mate in this way, the behaviour has largely come to be associated with these fish, among which more than 20 species are known to do it, according to Brittanica.
Female anglerfish are much larger than the males.
When it’s time to mate, a male will bite onto the massive female and in some cases even fuse to her body, joining their tissues and circulatory systems.
The male becomes dependent on the female for nutrients – and, he turns into her permanent sperm supply.