The deep sea is a weird and confusing place. There are an incredible number of mysteries remaining down there. (Way, way down there.) One of them, apparently, involved the mating habits of one of the deep sea's most-recognizable residents. Scientists have an idea of how the anglerfish mates -- and it's weird -- but the ritual hadn't ever been recorded on video until now.
Sixty times smaller than females of the species, the male Fanfin Seadevil anglerfish is seen for the first time in this video as well. Look close or you'll miss him clinging to the underside of the female. Anglerfish have parasitic sex, and it's not very sexy.
In the video captured 800 meters below the surface by the Rebikoff Foundation, the male attaches to the female by biting her belly. Their tissues and circulatory systems fuse together. He'll remain there until he dies taking nutrients from the female and giving her his sperm.
"This is a unique and never-before-seen thing," said Ted Pietsch, professor emeritus at the University of Washington. "It’s so wonderful to have a clear window on something only imagined before this." Pietsch was not a part of the study but is considered the world's expert on anglerfish. He released the statement Thursday when the video was released.
Researchers Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen captured around 25 minutes of video featuring the gently floating female anglerfish, with her bioluminescent whiskers of light floating elegantly alongside. The fish are massively rare. Only 14 females of this particular species have been studied, all of which exist in jars of alcohol in natural history collections. Not only had a male of the species never been seen on video previously, like any good Milford School graduate, it'd never been seen at all.