Aquarium researchers find rare fish found in CA ocean


A barreleye fish is shown in this image from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in 2009. The rare creature was spotted again by researchers on Dec. 1, 2021, in the Monterey Bay off California.

Screengrab from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Researchers from a California aquarium were searching for deep sea jellies when they caught a glimpse of an “extremely rare” creature with glowing green eyes.

Monterey Bay Aquarium senior aquarist Thomas Knowles spotted the fish in the Monterey Bay on Dec. 1 from a distance but knew exactly what it was.

“As we slowly approached it, excitement grew in the control room as everyone began to realize what we had found,” Knowles said in a news release from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We all knew that this was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The creature was a barreleye fish. With visible green bulb-like eyes inside its forehead, the bizarre fish can move them forward to see when its eating, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Though the researchers knew what they were looking at, it was the first time theyhave seen the fish.

Researchers have logged more than 5,600 remote dives with more than 27,600 hours of video and they’ve only witnessed the fish nine times.

Though sightings of the strange fish are rare, Knowles said they did not capture the barreleye for their upcoming “Into the Deep” exhibit because they weren’t prepared to care for it at the aquarium.

“Just observing this animal living in its natural habitat is an amazing opportunity for science,” he said in the release.

The rare fish grows to a maximum size of about 6 inches and dwells in the midwater ocean — at depths between 2,000 to 2,600 feet.

These fish are found in the Bering Sea to Japan and Baja California.

“Most of the deep sea truly is unexplored territory, and it is still revealing it wonders to us,” Knowles said.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering the state of Washington and the western region. She’s a journalism graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s based in Phoenix.

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