Until recently scientists had only ever found dead specimens of the extremely elusive Ghost Fish, an eery looking specimen of the family Aphyonidae that looks to be equal parts eel, tadpole, and cave villain from Super Mario Bros. (I at least think this thing looks like a cross between a squid and a ghost in the game).
So scientists caught the first ever glimpse of a living ghost fish, and it was a depth of around 8,200 feet/2,500 meters. And this wasn’t just the first time the Ghost Fish was spotted alive, it’s actually the first time in history that any fish from the family Aphyonida has been seen alive:
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“This is just remarkable.” That’s how Bruce Mundy, fishery biologist with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, described seeing live video of this eel-like fish. What makes it so remarkable is the fact that a fish in this family has never been seen live – until now.
Video of the fish was captured during an expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to explore the unknown and poorly known deep waters of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Seen while exploring a ridge feature at a depth of ~2,500 meters, the fish measured about 10 centimeters long. It is in the same order (Ophidiiformes) as cusk eels, but belongs to a distinct family (Aphyonidae). According to the experts, this is the first time that a fish in the family Aphyonidae has ever been seen alive!
With its transparent, gelatinous skin, which lacked scales, and its highly reduced eyes that lacked pigment, the fish was truly a remarkable – and ghostly – find. In fact, some viewers noted it was basically the “fish version of Casper the octopus,” in reference to an octopus seen during a February expedition on the Okeanos Explorer off of Hawaii that was likely a new species.
There’s video footage of the Ghost Fish alive over on NOAA’s website, so if you want to see how this creepy ass fish swims around at 8,200 feet below sea level (can you imagine the pressure down there?!?!) then you can CLICK HERE to head on over to NOAA’s site.
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