The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has captured some incredibly rare footage of a bronze coloured dragonfish. While there are several types of dragonfish, this particular type is extra elusive.
The highfin dragonfish (Bathophilus flemingi) can grow to be seven inches long and usually lives at depths of 740 to 4,500 feet below sea level, well out of the range of most underwater filming equipment.
“MBARI researchers have observed a few different dragonfishes in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this one is the rarest we’ve encountered,” the institute wrote on Twitter. “In more than three decades of deep-sea research and more than 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times!”
MBARI researchers have observed a few different dragonfishes in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this one is the rarest we’ve encountered. In more than three decades of deep-sea research and more than 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times! pic.twitter.com/RwQXMseq9P
— MBARI (@MBARI_News) May 3, 2022
Dragonfish usually eat other fish and crustaceans and catch their prey by staying very still and grabbing the unsuspecting fish as they swim past. Most types of dragonfish are coloured black, actually some of the darkest blacks found in nature. However, this particular species is tinted with an unusual bronze colour.
Similar to anglerfish, the dragonfish also makes use of bioluminescence. It dangles a bright light from its chin, a bit like a fishing rod, to attract its prey to come closer and investigate.
The rare creature was spotted during an expedition in MBARI’s Western Flyer research vessel, the institute wrote on YouTube. They found it just outside of Monterey Bay at a depth of around 980 feet.
“They are just amazing animals,” MBARI senior scientist Bruce Robison told Live Science, “often the real joy of those trips comes from the stuff you don’t anticipate,” he added.