Eerie ghost-like fish spotted alive for the first time ever
Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 11:39 AM - Scientists with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can cross one more item off their bucket list.
NOAA's Okeanos Explorer team recently released footage showing a first-time sighting of a rare, ghost-like fish that has never before been spotted alive.
"Some of us working with the fish have had wish lists you know, sort of bucket lists, of what we want to see, and a fish in this family is probably first on the list for a lot of us," says Bruce Mundy, fishery biologist with NOAA's Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office.
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The eel-like fish was captured during NOAA's 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition, while the team was exploring a ridge feature roughly 2,5000 metres deep, the administration noted on their official Facebook page.
"I am sure that this is the first time a fish in this family has ever been seen alive. This is really an unusual sighting," Mundy tells Shirley Pomponi, biology science team lead and research professor on the Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas Leg 3.
An ongoing debate about fish in the Aphyonidae family is whether they are pelagic -- living up in the water column -- or if they're associated with the bottom, like the one spotted in the ridge. For researchers, this discovery plays a big role in getting closer to an answer
"So not only do we have the first sighting, but you've got some of the first evidence to not necessarily solve that debate, but make a strong argument that yes the family is a bottom-living family," Mundy says.
The fish measured approximately 10 centimetres long. Its transparent, jelly-like skin gave it a ghostly appearance that biologists found remarkable.
Pomponi adds that some NOAA interns believe the fish looks like a dragon from The NeverEnding Story, a children's fantasty film first released in 1984.
Those with an Internet connection are invited to watch a live broadcast of the expedition's dives until July 8.
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Thumbnail image courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration.