See a Rare ‘Beautifully Bronze Deep-Sea Dragon’ Shimmer on Video

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California has uncovered another gem of the deep with video of a rare highfin dragonfish (Bathophilus flemingi), a toothy predator known for its hunting technique of calmly hanging out in the water to snag unsuspecting prey.

Mbari shared the ethereal video of the torpedo-shaped creature this week. The footage comes from 980 feet (300 meters) deep in the bay and was captured by the remote-operated vehicle Doc Ricketts (named for marine biologist Ed Ricketts). The ROV’s light system illuminated the fish, showing off its shimmery metallic appearance. Doc Ricketts was deployed from Mbari’s research vessel Western Flyer.

The bronze-colored fish was cause for excitement due to its rarity. “Mbari researchers have observed a few different dragonfishes in the depths of Monterey Bay, but this one is the rarest we’ve encountered,” the institute said on YouTube. “In more than three decades of deep-sea research and more than 27,600 hours of video, we’ve only seen this particular species four times.”

The fish only grows to about 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) in length. The shiny appearance of this specimen is in contrast to many dragonfish, which are very dark. In a dragonfish explainer, Mbari said they’re “pigmented with some of the blackest blacks known in nature.” THE 2020 study highlighted the ultra-black look of some of these fascinating fish.

For another view of Bathophilus flemingi, check out images shared by ichthyologist Ben Frable in 2020. Frable described the fish as having “a stunning bronze-gold sheen under angled light.”

We’ve seen some eye-catching ocean wonders thanks to ROV adventures this year. Check out this “yellow brick road” in the Pacific and this pair of cute dumbo octopuses. The glimmering dragonfish is one more treasure to add to the bounty.

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