Crystallichthys cyclospilus is an unusual species of fish. Her body is almost completely transparent, except in a few places. As explained by the researchers, in this way the fish protects itself from predators inhabiting the bottom of the sea.
The strange, translucent, jelly-like fish with an unusual sucker on its stomach made a surprise for a group of scientists who studied the sea depths in Alaskan waters.
The animal is a species of fish Crystallichthys cyclospilus. It lives at the bottom of the North Pacific – it even lives at a depth of 830 meters. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Meteorological Service (NOAA) found it during a routine study of a deep-sea ecosystem off the coast of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Sarah Friedman, one of the NOAA experts and expedition member, shared the photo of the fish.
The researcher said that the body of the fish was “very jelly-like” and it felt as if it was “holding a piece of jelly”.
“It is believed to be an adaptation to effectively swim under the crushing pressure of the deep sea,” Friedman said.
The team was very excited to show such a peculiar fish to the world.
“They live in relatively remote places and at greater depths, so the average person will never encounter this species,” Friedman said. But while such fish are extremely rare, researchers have managed to find “four or five” different specimens during the trip.
Characteristic and very mysterious
The bodies of the fish are almost completely transparent – except for the eyes, stomach, and darker spots on the skin. Thanks to this, they can hide from predators.
“Many animals that live in greater ocean depths are translucent,” Friedman added. “This allows them to blend in with the dark background of the habitat with limited light availability and few structures to hide behind,” she said.
Like several other species of animals Crystallichthys cyclospilus has modified belly fins that form a sucker. ‘This allows them to stick to rocks and coral at the bottom of the ocean to avoid wasting energy constantly swimming, especially in strong currents,’ the researcher said.
Overall, little is known about their lives. The only thing that is clear is that they feed on small invertebrates that crawl along the bottom of the sea.
The team also found many other interesting marine specimens during their journey, such as a giant “sea spider” (which is not actually a real spider) and a fish that can turn its eyes to see through the top of its translucent head.
However, the main goal of the research is not to search for rare species, but to assess the general condition of the ecosystem.
“This research is essential for the sustainable management of fish and shellfish species that support Alaska’s commercial and recreational fishing and coastal communities,” concluded Friedman.
Main photo source: Sarah Friedman / NOAA Fisheries