October 2021 Newsletter
DEEP SEA DRAGONFISH
Photo by: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
Deep sea creatures live in one of harshest environments there is to live in on Earth. So each of these unique creatures has adapted to survive these depths. Although these monsters of the deep can seem frightening or weird, their adaptations have allowed them to thrive. Deep Sea Dragonfish (Grammatostomias flagellibarba) are spooky fish with crazy adaptations that make them seem like aliens. Since they live in such deep waters, very little is known about these spooky fish. Deep Sea Dragonfish have transparent teeth and a dark body that make them essentially invisible to their prey. This camouflage makes the Dragonfish one of the top predators of the deep-sea, despite their small size and slow speed. Their teeth are always exposed so they evolved to have transparent teeth made from unusually crystalline nanostructure mixed with amorphous regions. Dragonfish also have eyes that can see in low light since there isn’t much light in the depths of the ocean. These deep-sea creatures also have bioluminescent photophores and a light-producing barbel attached to its chin that allow them to produce their own light. The Dragonfish use their bioluminescence in dark waters to attract prey and signal to potential mates. The Deep Sea Dragonfish use their barbel like a fishing lure by flashing it on and off and waving it back and forth. They have detachable jaws and large fang-like teeth that allow them to catch and eat large prey. The fish only measures to about 6 inches so it usually feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and anything else they could find. After a meal, Deep Sea Dragonfish have evolved to remain hidden from predators. They hide their lights under their stomach walls until their meal is digested. Deep Sea Dragonfish live up to 5,000 feet below the surface. They are found mainly in the North and Western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Spooky creatures of the deep have adaptations that allow them to live in such harsh conditions. The Deep Sea Dragonfish is part of this spooky family and it’s got all the adaptations to show for it!