With deep diving by remote-powered vehicles (ROVs), marine scientists have a rare opportunity to find species that we humans would never have seen otherwise in our entire lives. One such rare deep-sea creature is the whale, a bright scarlet fish of the order Cetomimiformes, which was recently captured on camera for your viewing pleasure. Steve Haddock and his team’s recent R / V Western Flyer expedition by the ROV Dock Ricketts of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) found the whale to cross at a depth of 2,013 meters (6,604 feet) in offshore Monterey Bay.
MBARI wrote in a Facebook post, “We have encountered this obscure fish only 18 times in 34 years of deep-sea exploration with our remote-powered vehicles (ROVs).” Although they are a rare sight and very little known to the research community, what we know about whales proves that they are really quite strange, even by the standards of the already bizarre benthic.
The name “shapeshifter” refers to three different body shapes that were observed in net-caught fish, said Dr. Steve Haddock of MBARI’s IFL Science. “They don’t change shape immediately, but they do change from babies to adults and males look very different from females. There are plenty of examples at sea – even among jellyfish – where two different stages of development are thought to be two different species until someone points to them. It’s easy to see why connecting the three points of a whale proves to be challenging, when you know how dramatically this fish’s form changes in its lifetime.
According to MBARI, whales begin life with functional eyes in the form of their larvae, but when they move towards adults the lenses are lost and they lose the ability to see. Fortunately, they got a backup sensory organ in the form of a short line that is sensory perforated. This enables them to “see” by detecting vibrations around them, a more effective way to reasonably navigate your environment when that environment sits at a depth where there is little supply of light. What happens to whales as they mature depends on their sex. The terrible fate for men is that their jaws do not melt at all; it is a good thing because they also lose their esophagus, intestines, and intestines.