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Blog Tags: Siphonophores

Creature Feature: Pacific Barreleye

Prepare to witness what has to be one of the strangest animals on planet Earth. Behold: the Pacific barreleye. As this video shot by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute demonstrates, NASA need not look to the heavens to find aliens. 2,000 feet deep in the Pacific ocean lurks this otherworldly creature inside whose bizarre transparent head, more colorfully described as a "cockpit" by some scientists, is a set of extremely sensitive tubular eyes, from which it derives its name.

Those eyes are capped by stunning green lenses, pointed ever upward to spot bioluminescent prey and faint silhouettes in the deep sea (the dark eye-like spots on the front of the fishes head are, in fact, olfactory organs). The barreleye is thought to steal food from siphonophores, a group of colonial jellyfish-like animals, and the transparent dome above its eyes provides protection from their stinging tentacles.

Like much life in the deep, extremely little was known about this fish until researchers came upon this specimen off of Central California. Bottom trawling and deep sea fisheries are quickly destroying deep sea habitat before scientists have the opportunity to study the fascinating animals that call this poorly understood region home. Who knows what other strange creatures await discovery in the deep?


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