Rare, frightening anglerfish captured on video for first time

An extremely rare type of anglerfish, the Black Seadevil, has been captured on video for what is believed to be the first time. The clip, released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, clearly shows one of the ugliest and meanest-looking fish at a depth of about 1,969 feet. According to MBARI senior scientist Bruce Robinson, this type of fish is so rare that he’s only seen three of them despite diving in the Monterey Canyon for 25 years. According to the video, this Seadevil is a female of the species—males are described as smaller, without the signature “fishing pole” attachment that females use to lure prey into their gaping maws.

Anglers have a remarkable apparatus on their heads: a fishing pole, with a luminous lure at the tip, which they use to attract their prey. In the darkness of deep water, they flash the light to attract prey and draw them near the angler’s mouth.

Bruce Robinson, MBARI senior scientist

The Black Seadevil also has a particularly fascinating mating process. Robinson said males essentially die while mating with a female Seadevil. “The male bites into the body of the female, their tissues fuse,” he said. “The male’s body degenerates until it’s a lump of tissue surrounding testicles.” The female will then carry the male’s remaining corpse with her for the rest of her life. Robinson said he has seen female Seadevils with as many as 11 males attached.

Males are ill-equipped for feeding, and their sole responsibility appears to be to find a female and mate with her as soon as possible.

Bruce Robinson