Face to face with the Devil: Rare anglerfish caught on tape

Coming face to tooth-filled face with a deep-sea anglerfish that's more mouth than anything else might not seem like something to celebrate, but it's different when it's one of the first times the fish has been caught on camera. Usually the small predators – which use a bioluminescent lure suspended over their heads to attract prey – are only found at depths of around 2,000m, but researchers stumbled unexpectedly on a Black Sea Devil at around 580m in Monterey Bay, California after discovering it with their remote-controlled sub, dubbed Doc Ricketts.

At the controls was Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) Senior Scientist Bruce Robison. "This is the first time we've captured this fish on video in its habitat," Robison said. "Anglerfish, like this Melanocetus, are among the most rarely seen of all deep-sea fishes."

While it's not the first time anglerfish have been caught on camera, such occasions are still very rare. In fact, MBARI says, there have been fewer than six still or video captures, usually when research vehicles are sent deep into locations like the Monterey Canyon.

That given, this is the first time the fish has been seen so close to the surface, roughly 1,900 feet. Sighted during a midwater research expedition in November 2014, it's believed to be the first video footage ever made of the species alive and at depth, the MBARI says.

Although the video may not seem to show much, so little is known about the patterns of the anglerfish that any insight is of huge value to marine biologists.

For instance, reproductively they follow an oddly parasitic approach. The much-smaller male latches onto the approximately 9cm long female and allows its own internal organs to atrophy, relying instead on the female's bloodstream.

However other stages of their lifespan are unclear, including even patterns of swimming and predation.

SOURCE Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute