Source: NOAA Ocean Explorer
When it comes to beauty beneath the waves, it seems the deeper you go, the more beguiling the animals. Witness the bewitching grace of the smallspine spookfish in footage captured off the northeast coast of the US by the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program. The specimen was filmed swimming a dozen metres above the seafloor in Hydrographer Canyon, 140 kilometres off the coast of Nantucket Island.
Living in the ocean depths more than 2,600 metres below the surface, the smallspine spookfish (Harriotta haeckeli) has only been sighted a handful of times before, previously off the coasts of the Canary Islands, Greenland and New Zealand. After this discovery in US waters, researchers believe that the spookfish’s range might be more widespread in ultra-deep waters.
Belonging to the family Rhinochimaeridae—otherwise known as long-nosed chimaeras—the smallspine spookfish’s elongated snout is covered in sensory nerve endings to help it seek out prey. The small creature, which grows up to 28 inches, also boasts a venomous spine running through its first dorsal fins, which is used to deter predators. Like many deep-sea species, almost nothing is known about the animal’s biology, ecology, or reproductive behaviour.
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