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New Anglerfish: Deep in Gulf of Mexico, Pale Fish Angles for Prey

Aug 06, 2015 01:00 PM EDT
A new kind of deep-water anglerfish has been discovered in very deep, dark water in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The researchers from Nova Southeastern University who found the fish have named it Lasiognathus Regan.
(Photo : Theodore Pietsch, Ph.D. University of Washington)

In the northern Gulf of Mexico, a never-before-seen type of deep-water anglerfish was recently identified by researchers from Nova Southeastern University (NSU)'s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. It appears to be a bewhiskered, crumpled wraith from the depths. A report on this fish recently was published in the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists' journal, Copeia.

"As a researcher, the one thing I know is that there's so much more we can learn about our oceans," said Tracey Sutton, Ph.D., of NSU, in information provided by the organization Deepend Consortium (DC). "Every time we go out on a deep-sea research excursion there's a good chance we'll see something we've never seen before -- the life at these depths is really amazing."

The fish has been named Lasiognathus Regan. Three females were found between 3000 and 4000 feet deep in the Gulf. They are each under two inches long, the DC statement said.

There is no light at that depth in the sea, only the light of bioluminescence that each creature produces. Anglerfish are also unique because each has an appendage angling up from its head. Passing small creatures draw near to check out the floating line, then find themselves the anglerfish's next meal, the statement noted. 

Dr. Sutton leads a  research team studying oil spill effects on deep-sea marine life. In late 2014, NSU was awarded $8.5 million from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)--as one of 12 organizations that received part of $140 million for continued research in the area of oil spills and how we respond to them, said the statement.

Follow Catherine on Twitter at @TreesWhales

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