FLORIDA (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Imagine a 5-foot living needle in the ocean, with “chrome-like skin” and a knack for swimming vertically before it bites with razor sharp teeth.
That’s basically what deep sea explorers captured on video Nov. 5, when they recorded a predatory ribbonfish on the prowl off the southeastern United States.
And yes, they “will bite you,” CoastOBX.com reports.
The NOAA video shows a long, extremely thin creature that appears like polished steel against the black deep-ocean environment. That sword-like shape has earned the fish many names, including the cutlassfish, NOAA says.
“It’s almost as if he’s made up of metal. He’s so shiny, you can see him reflected in the lens of the camera,” NOAA says, noting the fish is hunting in the video. “The predatory cutlassfish stays vertical in the water column as it hunts. It uses its pectoral fins to keep itself stable.”
A 2018 article in Digg.com likened the cutlassfish to a “weird thing that ... looks like it’s from an ‘80s sci-fi movie.”
They are a popular “nontraditional game fish” in some parts of the country, but the voracious eaters are “not often used for food in North America,” according to Thewebsiteofeverything.com. Ribbonfish are not known for attacking people, partly because they are fond of the ocean floor, experts say.
NOAA spotted the fish while recording with a remote camera at a depth of 2,661 to 2,760 feet off northeast Florida’s Stetson Mound.
The same dive also recorded images of a bizarre pale glass sponge that resembled a potato chip, NOAA said in its report.
“Ribbonfish have a striking appearance,” says Localseafood.com. “Their tiny scales are bright silver, almost reflective. They have yellow eyes and a long mouth filled with sharp teeth.”