Eel-like creature an unknown species


Bec Crew


Bec Crew

Bec Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.
ByBec Crew September 4, 2014
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This delicate beauty is possibly a new species of eel or cusk-eel

THIS BEAUTIFUL BABY sea creature was shot by underwater photographer, Joshua Lambus, during one of the amazing dives he likes to call ‘Blackwater’.

Travelling on a little boat up to 8km off the shore of Hawaii, Lambus performs his dives in the black of night, when thousands upon thousands of deep-sea animals come up to the surface to feed and collect a day’s worth of oxygen.

“You get animals that live in total darkness during the day that make these huge vertical migrations to the surface every night. This is actually the largest migration of any group of animals on the planet,” he says.

Making sure he never sinks more than 18m down, Lambus takes the most incredible photographs of tiny, often never-seen-before sea creatures, including the one above that has so far not been identified. Perhaps it’s some kind of juvenile eel, he says, or possibly related to the cusk-eel, which is a family (Ophidiidae) of bony marine fishes found in temperate and tropical oceans all over the world.

Cusk-eel an impressive diver

Australian and New Zealand waters house a rose-pink species of cusk-eel (Genypterus blades), commonly known as the Australian rockling or the New Zealand ling, and while its deep-diving habits would impress some (it can live up to a kilometre below the surface) there’s no impressing the aptly named abyssal dusk-eel (Abyssobrotula galatheae)

In 1970, an abyssal cusk-eel was collected from near the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench, which sits between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean off the south-eastern coast of the United States. Recorded at a depth of 8370m, it is officially the deepest-living sea creature ever discovered.

Unfortunately this one died as it was dragged on a long journey up to the surface, but in 2006, photographers caught a glimpse of another of these stunning creatures at a depth of about 2km in Suruga Bay off Japan’s Honshu Island. And these things are just wow.

Ghostly white and growing up to 20cm long, the abyssal cusk-eel is not a true eel; it just looks like one because it’s so long and lean. It’s got cute little pectoral fins (the ones that stick out on either side like arms) and one long fin running down its back, instead of the usual set of three – the dorsal, anal, and tail fins. Its tiny, feeler-like pelvic fins that branch out from under its head help it to feel for prey lurking below.

Here’s another of Lambus’s unidentified creatures, a beautiful juvenile ribbonfish that looks like something straight out of a Disney movie.