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Researchers spot a rare type of dragonfish at 1,000 feet deep

This species of dragonfish can grow to just under 7 inches long and can be often found 1,000 feet or more below the ocean's surface.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute/Screenshot by NPR
This species of dragonfish can grow to just under 7 inches long and can be often found 1,000 feet or more below the ocean's surface.

Researchers in California recently came across an incredibly elusive type of deep-sea dragonfish nearly 1,000 feet below the ocean surface.

The highfin dragonfish, Bathophilus flemingi, was recently spotted by a team of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute researchers aboard the Western Flyer research vessel, the institute announced on Twitter. And though they have come across dragonfish before, this particular find was incredibly special.

"In more than three decades of deep-sea research and more than 27,600 hours of video, we've only seen this particular species four times!" the post reads.

This creature of the deep maxes out at just under 7 inches long, though some of its cousins can grow to be as big as 20 inches long. According to Fishbase, the highfin dragonfish is found in the eastern Pacific ocean off the west coast of North America and at depths ranging between about 740 feet to 4,500 feet below the ocean's surface.

With an appearance akin to something out of a science-fiction flick, these fish have long narrow bodies and little fins. And though the specimen the researchers encountered was a beautiful shade of orange, most types of dragonfish are black. In fact, the pigment of their skin is some of the blackest blacks found in nature, MBARI said.

Some dragonfish utilize a luminescent lure to catch their prey, dangling it in front of its mouth until an unsuspecting treat comes along.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.

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