First footage of mating deep-sea anglerfish

Anglerfish, those denizens of the deep ocean known for their menacing teeth and glowing lures, are difficult creatures to watch in action. Because they live in punishing conditions several hundred metres below the surface, most of what scientists know about them comes from dead animals pulled up in nets.

Although more than 160 different species have been catalogued, footage of the living creatures going about their business is rare. The video above showing two fanfin anglers (Caulophryne jordani) – shot 800 metres down a seawall off Sao Jorge Island in the Azores by deep-sea explorers Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen, using a special submersible – is one of the best ever captured, and offers a wealth of new information.

For one thing it’s the first time a living pair of deep-sea anglerfish have been sighted – many species of anglerfish take the idea of “mating for life” quite literally, as the tiny male latches on to a much larger female, biting into her flesh and eventually fusing into her tissue and taking nutrition from her blood.

The footage, released via Science, also shows the creature’s bioluminescent lure, which draws prey in the almost lightless ocean depths, and its wide net of filaments which may function like a cat’s whiskers. 

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