December 3, 2014 / ROV

National Geographic reported on an expedition that has recently obtained footage of a special fish that is difficult to locate, thanks to an ROV unit. Scientists operating in Monterey Bay Canyon managed to spy a female "black sea devil" anglerfish under nearly 2,000 feet of water. 

Video taken by the Monterey Bay Area Research Institute (MBARI) shows the creature, whose technical name is "Melanocetus," swimming in darkness. Doc Ricketts, the remotely operated unit used to record the anglerfish also led to the fish's capture: It is currently being kept in a special dark containment room designed to simulate its natural habitat. The video, which has been posted YouTube, also notes that this is believed to be the first footage ever taken of this species in the wild.

In a mini-press release posted on the MBARI website, Bruce Robinson, the senior scientist in charge of the expedition that recovered this fish, described the significance of finding a living specimen of this species.

"This is the first time we've captured this fish on video in its habitat," he said. "Anglerfish, like this Melanocetus, are among the most rarely seen of all deep-sea fishes. The shining spot at the tip of the 'fishing pole' projecting from the fish's head is a glowing lure. The anglerfish uses its light to attract prey in its deep, dark habitat." 

When encountering rare species, scientists may only have a limited amount of time to record everything that they need. To protect remote units and achieve financial support in the case of accident, researchers should buy ROV insurance that covers the depths at which they will be operating. Maneuvers in a particular environment like this need to be delicate and precise.

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