Friday, 12 August 2016

Newfound Glow-in-the-Dark Fish Identified


By Kacey Deamer, Staff Writer | August 11, 2016 10:12am ET

With distinct tubular eyes and a natural glow, two species of bioluminescent deep-sea fish nicknamed "barreleyes" have been identified.

The newly described species are part of the family Opisthoproctidae. Barreleye fish are not well-described, due to the rareness and fragility of specimens, the researchers said.

These fish are "one of the most peculiar and unknown fish groups in the deep-sea pelagic realm, with only 19 morphologically disparate species," the scientists wrote in their new study.

However, the scientists were able to determine the two newfound species through comparisons of pigment patterns on the fish's "sole." This organ, found along the belly of some bioluminescent species, controls the light emitted from a different, internal organ. These two organs give the fish their glowing properties.

"The entire external surface of the sole is covered with large, thin scales showing gradually increasing pigmentation toward the distal parts, thereby functioning as a light screen when the reflector is contracted (no light emission) or expanded (light passes through the thin, transparent parts of the scales)," the researchers wrote in the study.

The fish scales' pigment patterns show variation among species. The researchers took four specimens of a sole-bearing barreleye caught during recent research cruises near American Samoa and New Zealand and compared them to long-preserved specimens caught near the mid-Atlantic ridge and Australia. In doing so, the scientists found three different pigment patterns, suggesting three distinct species.


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