Source: Science Magazine
Author: Katie Langin
Anglerfish, with their menacing gape and dangling lure, are among the most curious inhabitants of the deep ocean. Scientists have hardly ever seen them alive in their natural environment. That’s why a new video, captured in the waters around Portugal’s Azores islands, has stunned deep-sea biologists. It shows a fist-size female anglerfish, resplendent with bioluminescent lights and elongated whiskerlike structures projecting outward from her body. And if you look closely, she’s got a mate: A dwarf male is fused to her underside, essentially acting as a permanent sperm provider.
“I’ve been studying these [animals] for most of my life and I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Ted Pietsch, a deep-sea fish researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Most of what we know about deep-sea anglerfish comes from dead animals pulled up in nets. Scientists have identified more than 160 species, but only a handful of videos exist—and this is the first to show a sexually united pair. “So you can see how rare and important this discovery is,” Pietsch says. “It was really a shocker for me.”
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