A Black Seadevil was seen by researchers diving within Monterey Canyon in the Pacific Ocean.
Better known as a deep-sea anglerfish, the Black Seadevil is an ugly and dangerous-looking fish that lives at a depth of 2,000 feet, or deeper. The female Seadevil is highly recognizable in pop culture since it was represented in Finding Nemo.
Like in the movie, the female Black Seadevil seems to be little more than a large mouth with sharp fangs on the top and bottom. She has an orb dangling from the top of her that is luminescent and used a bit like a fishing lure. When fish are attracted to it, they become dinner. Bruce Robison, the scientist who led the dive, described them as “ambush predators.”
The male Seadevil is much smaller than the female. His one purpose is to find a mate and, if he doesn’t, he drowns. Once he finds a mate, he attaches to her and lives off of her like a parasite. The Black Seadevil is very rarely seen due to how deep it lives. In fact, very little is known about the fish other than its mating and eating habits.
Scientists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) were diving in the Monterey Canyon when they were able to find, and record, a Black Seadevil. Robison admitted that he believes it to be the first time anyone has been able to film the Seadevil alive and in its natural habitat.
The video of the Black Seadevil is extremely important to studies involving climate change. Due to rising temperatures in the ocean, oxygen levels are changing. Creatures living in shallow water are already showing signs that they are being affected.
“You can see that the temperature is creeping up slowly, probably because of global warming,” Robison said. “If the temperature continues to rise and the amount of oxygen continues to decrease, things are going to change.”
The team that took the video of the Black Seadevil is researching the impacts of the temperature and oxygen changes on creatures living in the cold waters of sun-devoid deep-sea. Creatures from deep-sea depths are already used to low oxygen levels, but are much more sensitive to environmental changes.
Constant climate change could force creatures from the deeper parts of the sea to rise to shallower depths. Scientists are working on figuring out what effect that would have on the ecosystem.
[Image courtesy of MBARI]