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First Live Observations of a Rarely Seen Deep Sea Anglerfish

by Dana Lacono (August, 2012)

With a bulbous body and spiky scales, a shaggy lure dangling from its head, and foot-like fins that it uses to “walk” along the seafloor, the deep-sea anglerfish Chaunacops coloratus looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

In a recent paper, MBARI researcher Lonny Lundsten and his coauthors describe the first observations of these rare fish in their natural, deep-sea habitat. In addition to documenting these fish walking on the seafloor and fishing with their built-in lures, the researchers discovered that the fish change color from blue to red as they get older.

C. coloratus was first described from a single specimen collected off the coast of Panama during an expedition in 1891 aboard the U.S. Fish Commission steamer Albatross. However, for over 100 years, marine researchers collected deep-sea fish using trawl nets and dredges, so this anglerfish was never seen alive. That changed in 2002, when researchers from MBARI, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary used the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Tiburon to explore Davidson Seamount—an extinct volcano off the coast of Central California…

(read more: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

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