Behold this incredible first footage of a deep-sea anglerfish pair—a female Caulophryne jordani or fanfin angler and a dwarf male attached to her side. Those long ‘whiskers’ are filaments that may help her sense predators or prey around her, and though it’s difficult to confirm from the video alone, the fish may be emitting (or reflecting) light in points along her filaments and fin rays. The pair were found floating around Portugal’s Azores islands, a rare sighting that has delighted biologists.

There are few videos of anglerfish in their natural habitats because they live so deep in the ocean. Specially-designed submersibles are required to withstand the crushing pressure and near-freezing temperatures of the water over a half-mile down. From ScienceMag:

The video was captured at a depth of 800 meters by deep-sea explorers Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen in a submersible. The husband and wife team was nearing the end of a grueling 5 hour dive along a steep deep-sea wall on the south side of São Jorge Island, when “something with a funny form” caught their eye, Kirsten Jakobsen says. Aborting their plan to surface, the filmmakers followed the strange creature around for 25 minutes, capturing its movements through the submersible’s 1.4 meter-wide window. It was exciting, but also challenging to maneuver the craft to get the best images because the female was only about 16 centimeters long, she says…

The tiny male is also a key part of the discovery. Like many other species of anglerfish, C. jordani forms a permanent pair bond—once a male finds a mate, he bites into her, eventually fusing with her tissue and gaining sustenance through her blood stream. Scientists have known about this bizarre reproductive strategy because they’ve seen dead males latched onto dead females, but people have never seen it in the wild—until now.

There are over 200 species of anglerfish. Watch this one next: The elusive Black Seadevil Anglerfish in rare video footage by MBARI.

Plus, don’t miss 3D scanning an anglerfish’s final meal, The Brilliance of Bioluminescence, and Why Do Deep Sea Creatures Look So Scary?

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