FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – As the saying goes “There’s plenty of fish in the sea,” well a Nova Southeastern University researcher recently discovered one that has never been seen before.
Tracey Sutton, Ph.D., who is part of team at NSU’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, discovered the new species of Ceratioid anglerfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico at a depth between 1,000-1,500 meters.
Sutton was able to identify the fish with assistance of Dr. Theodore Pietsch from the University of Washington.
At the ocean depths this fish lives in, there is no sunlight. The only light is that from creatures that produce bioluminescence, which means they generate their own light source.
The three females specimens found ranged in size from 30-95 mm in length. Looking at the fish, one quickly understands how anglerfishes get their common name.
They have an appendage at the top of their head, which resembles a fishing pole of sorts. And, like its human counterparts, this fish dangles the appendage until an unsuspecting fish swims up thinking they found a meal, only to quickly learn that they are, in fact, a meal themselves.
“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,” Dr. Sutton said.
As for this new anglerfish, the three female specimens are considered “type specimens” (i.e. they define the species,) and as such, will reside in the Ichthyology Collection at the University of Washington, which is home to the world’s largest deep-sea anglerfish collection.
Dr. Sutton studies the ecology of marine systems, particularly those of the open ocean. As part of those efforts, Dr. Sutton is leading a team of scientists and researchers studying the effects of oil spills on deep-sea marine life. That project recently received a boost, thanks to a financial award from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI.) NSU was awarded $8.5 million and is one of 12 organizations selected to receive part of $140 million for continued research in the area of oil spills and how we respond to them.