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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Pacific Spookfish Rhinochimaera pacifica

When scientists first hauled a Pacific spookfish up from the ocean depths, they were astonished by the sight of its enormously long, conical snout. The long, brownish body of this strange-looking fish tapers to a thin tail, so that the fish gives the impression of being pointed at both ends. The snout is whitish, flexible, and covered in sensory pores and canals.

Living in the dark depths of the ocean where its small eyes are of at best limited use, the spookfish uses its snout to find food and sense objects around it. The beak-shaped mouth under the base of the snout contains pairs of black, platelike teeth. Its tail has only a small lower lobe, while the upper lobe consists of a row of fleshy tubercles. Like other chimaeras, the spookfish relies mainly on its pectoral fins for propulsion rather than using its tail as most species of fish do. A very similar species of spookfish is found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Pacific Spookfish habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Chimaeriformes
  • Length About 4 ft (1.3 m), plus tail filament
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 1,100–4,900 ft (330–1,500 m)
  • Distribution Parts of Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean