How scientists filmed a mysterious monster from the depths of the ocean

Evolution often turns deep-sea creatures into unusual creatures that, to us, the inhabitants of the surface, seem to be aliens from another world. Recently, scientists were lucky: in February 2020, they managed to shoot unique footage of an unusual deep-sea predator hunting.

What happens if you cross a pelican with an eel? You will be surprised, but such a hybrid actually lives in the oceans. The 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 swell 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 solving this mystery. The team of researchers plunged to a depth of 1000 meters into the Atlantic Ocean in a special apparatus about 1500 km off the coast of Portugal – not far from the Azores. Scientists originally believed that pelican eels inflate their heads to form a kind of trapping “bag” into which the prey would then fall. Another theory was that due to this feature, the animal simply creates a large hole into which small prey gets into the water flow.

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, upon finding prey, inflate their heads as wide as possible to increase the chance of swallowing it. In the future, scientists hope to conduct a few more sessions of video filming and learn more about how these amazing creatures live and reproduce.

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