Barreleye Fish, See-through Fish That Allows you to View the Innerworkings of the species Cool or a Freaky 1?

barreleye fish

Although the Barreleye fish resembles a submersible, it needs its transparent head to navigate the 2,500-foot-deep seas in which it lives. Scientists have obtained film of a fish with a bulbous, transparent head and green orb-like eyes peering out through its forehead thousands of feet beneath the surface of Monterey Bay off the coast of California.

The half-century-old riddle of a fish with cylindrical eyes and a translucent head was finally solved by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Marine researchers have known that the Macropinna microstoma’s tube eyes are exceptionally good at collecting sunlight since it was originally described in 1939.

Barreleye Fish is Weird

barreleye fish

Researchers originally described the barreleye in 1939 and have been putting together how it thrives ever since. The barreleye fish, known scientifically as Macropinna microstoma, or “spookfish,” is considered by scientists to be one of the “most bizarre and undiscovered fish groups in the deep-sea marine world.”

In addition to their amazing “headgear,” barreleye fish have a variety of other interesting adaptations to deep-sea life. Their large, flat fins allow them to remain motionless in the water, and to maneuver very precisely (much like MBARI’s ROVs). Their small mouths suggest that they can be very precise and selective in capturing small prey. On the other hand, their digestive systems are exceptionally large, which suggests that they can eat a variety of small drifting animals as well as jellies. In fact, the stomachs of the two net-caught fish contained fragments of jellies.

B. H. Robison and K. R. Reisenbichler. Macropinna microstoma and the paradox of its tubular eyes. Copeia. 2008, No. 4, December 18, 2008.

They favor the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic seas for their moderate, warm deep-sea waters. They’ve been spotted in North Pacific coastal waters, off the shores of Baja California, the Bering Sea, and Japan, to name a few. It is frequently seen resting still in deep-sea waters with the help of its flat fins. They move their green-capped eyes skyward to see their food as well as jellies, allowing them to feast on the small animals dangling from their tentacles. MBARI’s ROV Ventana was deployed last week, and a team of scientists saw a barreleye fish floating in the sea. Video below.

External fertilization of eggs is used by barreleye fish to reproduce. These organisms’ alpha males and females both discharge sperm and eggs into the ocean, where they fertilize and develop. The parents show no concern for the fertilized eggs or their offspring.

Robison and Reisenbichler plan to conduct more study to see if their findings regarding Macropinna microstoma apply to other tubular-eyed deep-sea fish. For years, oceanographers have been baffled by the barreleyes’ strange physiological adaptations. Only with the development of sophisticated underwater robots have scientists been able to examine these species in their natural habitat, allowing them to fully comprehend how their physical modifications help them survive.

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