Scientists Spot a Rare Bronze Deep Dragon Lurking in the Twilight Zone

An incredibly rare species of Deep Sea Dragonfish with a shimmering metallic bronze hue has been spotted in the “Twilight Zone”.

Marine scientists filmed the tallfin dragonfish (Bathophilus flemingi) 300 meters deep in Monterey Bay, Moss Landing, California.

The images show the fish swimming elegantly through the water, like a bronze Parker pen or an elegant torpedo falling through the air.

This species – which is the rarest of all dragonflies – has smooth skin and a bronze color that can help with camouflage for hunting.

Although they are good swimmers, they prefer to lie in wait and ambush unsuspecting fish and shellfish.

The twilight zone begins where only 1% of light reaches and ends where there is no light at all. There is so little light at this level that marine life has to rely on faint silhouettes to find prey. So the highfin dragonfish produces light to mask its silhouette

THE HIGHFIN DRAGONFISH

Scientific name: Bathophilus flemingi

Length: Up to 6.5 inches (16.5 cm)

Habitat: Twilight (mesopelagic) and midnight (bathypelagic) zones

Diet: Fish and shellfish

Notable Features: Bronze color, slender body, smooth skin

The video was shot by experts from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) during a recent expedition aboard their research vessel Western Flyer, using an unmanned remotely operated vehicle (ROV) submersible equipped with a 4K ultra high definition resolution video camera.

The ROV had descended into the twilight zone (also known as the mesopelagic zone) which extends from 660 feet (200 meters) to 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).

The twilight zone begins where only one percent of the light reaches and ends where there is no light at all.

There is so little light at this level that marine life has to rely on faint silhouettes to find prey.

“MBARI researchers have observed a few different dragonfish in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this is the rarest we have encountered,” the institute said in a statement.

“In over three decades of deep-sea research and over 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times.”

Images of the high-end dragonfish (Bathophilus flemingi) swimming downward in the “twilight zone” – the part of the ocean extending from 660 feet (200 meters) to 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) down low

The metallic bronze color of the species absorbs remnants of blue light that descend to the depths, rendering the fish almost invisible

The metallic bronze color of the species absorbs remnants of blue light that descend to the depths, rendering the fish almost invisible

The high-end dragonfish can grow up to 16.5 cm (6.5 inches) long, although researchers have not caught this particular specimen, so measurements have not been made.

Like other creatures in the twilight zone, the Tallfin Dragonfish uses a trick called counterlighting – meaning it uses light to mask its silhouette, helping it blend into its surroundings when viewed. he needs to hide.

According to Bruce Robison, Senior Scientist at MBARI, its metallic bronze color absorbs remnants of blue light that descend to the depths, rendering the fish nearly invisible.

“But when we shine our white lights on it, it’s just beautiful,” Robison told Live Science.

MBARI scientists have observed several different dragonfish in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this species is a 'rare treat'

MBARI scientists have observed several different dragonfish in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this species is a ‘rare treat’

Being effectively invisible means the dragonfish can often go unnoticed by its unfortunate prey and swallow it whole.

The cunning species has another amazing trick for attracting predators – it has a small light emitter filament extending from his chin.

“He uses this lure to attract prey that sees the glowing patch of light and is attracted to it because they think it’s something small enough for them to eat,” Robison said.

The discovery was made by marine scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, which overlooks Monterey Bay.  Monterey Canyon is an underwater canyon in Monterey Bay

The discovery was made by marine scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, which overlooks Monterey Bay. Monterey Canyon is an underwater canyon in Monterey Bay

Its fins also have long, thin, wing-like filaments that can detect vibrations in the water, alerting fish when predators or prey are approaching.

They probably provide stability and prevent the fish from sinking while it waits for food.

MBARI scientists have observed several different dragonfish in the depths of Monterey Bay.

The Pacific black dragon (Idiacanthus antrostomus) and longfin dragonfish (Tactostoma macropus) are the most commonly sighted species, but encounters with others are “rare treats”.

‘STRAWBERRY SQUID’ IS SPOTTED OFF CALIFORNIA

A stunning ‘strawberry squid’ with one small blue eye and the other large and green has been filmed in the ‘twilight zone’ off the coast of California.

Marine scientists filmed strawberry squid (Histioteuthis heteropsis) 2,378 feet deep in Monterey Canyon, an underwater canyon in Monterey Bay, Moss Landing, California.

The squid’s name refers to its red pigmentation and the presence of photophores – organs that appear as light spots along its body – making it appear like a strawberry with seeds.

Like many deep sea animals, the strawberry squid is bright red – but the red light does not reach the deep sea.

Thus, a crimson coloration actually appears black and helps the squid hide from predators like sperm whales, dolphins, tuna, swordfish and sharks.

The researchers shone light from an unmanned submersible to capture high-resolution images of the creature.

Read more: ‘Strawberry squid’ spotted off California

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