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Well well whalefish… OK, yes, that’s quite the common name for a fish just over a foot long, but it’s no fluke! To the deep-sea explorers that discovered this bizarre pisces, the whalefish’s large mouth and teeny tiny eyes made it look enough like a more lengthy leviathan for the moniker to stick.
The whalefish belong to the fish family Cetomimidae, and very, very little is known about them. Few images of them exist, and they’re rarely found alive. This crimson beauty was discovered and filmed by our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) 1,665 meters (5,462 feet) deep in the Monterey Bay.
Of special note: Check out the rows of pores on the whalefish’s back! With such small (and largely ineffective) eyes, whalefish have highly developed lateral lines—specialized fishy structures that help them sense vibrations in the water alerting them to passing predators and prey.
But what exactly the whalefish get up to in the darkness of the deep is still very much a mystery, and finding one again is certain to be a red whale(fish) for Cetomimidae fans…