February 23, 2009--With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes--topped by green, orblike lenses--in a picture released today but taken in 2004.
The fish, discovered alive in the deep water off California's central coast by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is the first specimen of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact.
The 6-inch (15-centimeter) barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) had been known since 1939--but only from mangled specimens dragged to the surface by nets.
The beady bits on the front of the Pacific barreleye fish in this picture released February 23, 2009, aren't eyes but smell organs.
The grayish, barrel-like eyes are beneath the green domes, which may filter light. In this picture the eyes are pointing upward--the better to see prey above in the darkness of the barreleye's deep-sea home.
The barreleye lives more than 2,000 feet (600 meters) beneath the ocean's surface, where the water is almost inky.
The transparent- headed fish spends much of its time motionless, eyes upward, MBARI scientists discovered while watching the barreleye fish from a remotely operated vehicle