A deep-sea anglerfish of the family Caulophrynidae has been observed for the first time alive by a team from the Rebikoff Foundation, a science foundation operating in the Azores Archipelago/Portugal (rebikoff.org).
The team managed to capture spectacular video images during 25 minutes of the apparently gravid female with a sexually parasitic dwarf male permanently attached to her belly. The size of the female animal is estimated to be about 16 cm in length, while the male is estimated to measure only 3 cm in length.
In order to reproduce, the young male must find a female in the vast ocean and attach himself to her. This process results in a permanent fusion of tissues and even a connection of the circulatory systems.
It was during a diving mission when Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen, operators of the manned submersible LULA1000, could document the angler-fish drifting at about 800m of depth in a zone characterized by steep, partially vertical walls off the south slope of São Jorge Island, Azores.
The LULA1000 submersible has been optimized for quality video recording in depths up to 1000 metres. With this vehicle, the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation carries out deep-diving missions for habitat mapping purposes along the Azores Islands´ slopes and sea mounts. Images of deep-sea fauna and habitats are being used for scientific publications and nature documentaries.