The black seadevil is one creepy creature.
A type of humpback anglerfish, the seadevil is marked by its flat face, glowing zombie-like eyes and massive mouth, agape with gangly fangs. An appendage resembling a fishing rod with a luminous orb juts out from its forehead, flashing to attract prey thousands of feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Then it devours them whole.
Though frightening, it’s only 3.5 inches long.
Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., filmed a female fish in its natural habitat last week nearly 2,000 feet below the surface during a dive in Monterey Bay. Researchers said it’s one of only a few times the elusive fish has been caught on video.
“We’ve been diving out here in the Monterey Canyon regularly for 25 years, and we’ve seen three,” senior scientist Bruce Robinson told the San Jose Mercury News on Friday. He added: “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.”
Experts said not much is known about the fish.
“A video would tell us a lot about how it moves, swims, orients to gravity,” University of Washington professor Ted Pietsch told the newspaper.
The female seadevil is perhaps the most interesting. It has the fishing rod, razor-sharp teeth and balloon-like gut that enables it to swallow prey bigger than its own body.
Without the female, the much smaller male seadevil cannot survive. Robinson said the male is a parasite that relies on the female for food, oxygen and hormones.
“The male bites into the body of the female, their tissues fuse,” he told KSBW-TV. “The male’s body degenerates until it’s a lump of tissue surrounding testicles.”
The female will carry multiple males the rest of her life.
“If they don’t find a female, they drown,” Pietsch, an expert on the anglerfish, told the Mercury News.
Robinson told the newspaper scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute captured the fish last week to learn more about it — though he’s not sure how long it will survive in captivity.
The black seadevil became infamous to many in 2003 when it appeared in the Pixar movie “Finding Nemo.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Robison told KSBW-TV. “I think it’s beautiful. It’s perfectly adapted to the habitat that it lives in and the kind of life it leads.”