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Unusual fish walking on the bottom in the ocean depths

Every diver knows that the ocean depths hide many wonderful and unusual creatures. Creatures living at depths inaccessible to humans are often so unique and have evolved in such unusual ways that we find it hard to believe they exist. One of the very unusual inhabitants of the sea depths is a fish called the
Published: January 16, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:50
Unusual fish walking on the bottom in the ocean depths

Every diver knows that the ocean depths hide many wonderful and unusual creatures. Creatures living at depths inaccessible to humans are often so unique and have evolved in such unusual ways that we find it hard to believe they exist.

One of the very unusual inhabitants of the sea depths is a fish called the Shaefer’sanglerfish orgoosefish (goosefish -ang.). This elusive creature, whose Latin name is Sladenia shaefersi, is classified in the family Lophiidae.

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In turn, what certainly distinguishes it from other fish is the way it moves. This species crosses the ocean… walking on its fins. What’s more, Sladenia shaegersi is capable of devouring prey twice its size to satisfy its hunger.

The specimen captured in the video was encountered by research staff from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA, while conducting an exploration using a remotely operated robotic ROV, at a depth of almost 1,000 metres in the waters surrounding Florida.

Schaefer’s Anglerfish: November 19, 2019

This goosefish (Sladenia shaefersi) has the common name of Schaefer’s anglerfish. While we do encounter anglerfish in our deep-ocean exploration, this particularly species is not as well known, so catching a glimpse of it and its modified fins that act much like feet, allowing it to “walk” on the seafloor, during Dive 12 of the2019 Southeastern U.S. Deep-sea Exploration on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer was indeed a treat.

For more videos and images from the expedition, visit: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1907/logs/photolog/welcome.html

Posted by NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

This unusual fish was sitting proudly on top of the boulder, showing everyone that it feels like a lord of the manor and has no intention of running away from the unusual visitors from the surface. NOAA scientists described the encounter and the opportunity to observe the anglerfish as a ‘feast’, as this particular species is still very poorly understood and every such contact is a great opportunity to deepen our knowledge.

Although we encounter anglerfish when exploring the deep ocean, this species in particular is not that well understood. The modified fins behave like feet, allowing the fish to walk on the sea floor, the NOAA research team concluded

The researchers initially thought it was a rock and it was only after zooming in and reducing the distance separating the fish and the ROV that they recognised an unusual species of deep-sea dweller in the stone.

If you were a fish you wouldn’t even notice anything. An anglerfish can eat things almost twice its size. Itwill just sit and wait for something delicious to appear and to swallow its prey at the right moment, NOAA scientists explain

More than 200 species of anglerfish are known to exist. Some are over a metre long, and many live in the dark ocean depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic. According to the NOAA report, many species have very large mouths filled with sharp teeth and can live at depths of more than 1,500 metres.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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