How Scientists Captured a Mysterious Deep-Sea Predator

(ORDO NEWS) — Evolution often turns deep-sea creatures into unusual creatures that seem to us, the inhabitants of the surface, aliens from another world. Recently, scientists were lucky: in February 2020, they managed to capture unique footage of how an unusual deep-sea predator hunts.

What happens if you cross a pelican with an eel? You will be surprised, but such a hybrid actually lives in the oceans. Pelican eel (lat. Eurypharynx pelecanoides) is a subspecies of ray-finned fish, characterized by a long snake-like body and a huge head that can inflate like a balloon.

It can be found at a depth of 500 to 3000 meters in tropical and even temperate seas. Taking photographs at such depths is very problematic, and therefore, until recently, scientists had practically no information that would tell them why the creature looks so strange:

But now marine biologists are one step closer to unraveling the mystery. A team of researchers plunged to a depth of 1000 meters into the Atlantic Ocean in a special apparatus about 1500 km from the coast of Portugal – not far from the Azores.

Initially, scientists believed that pelican eels inflate their heads to form a kind of trapping “bag” into which prey would then fall. Another theory was that due to this feature, the animal simply creates a large hole into which small prey falls with the flow of water.

However, the reality, as always, turned out to be much more interesting. The video shows that in fact, pelican eels are fierce predators that actively hunt.

They explore their grounds and, when they find prey, they inflate their heads as wide as possible to increase the chance of swallowing it. In the future, scientists hope to conduct several more video sessions and learn more about how these amazing creatures live and reproduce.

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