Scientists Discover 16 ‘Ultra-Black’ Fish Breed That Absorb 99.9% Of Light


This alien-like creature is virtually unseen in the deep ocean.

  • A group of marine biologists had used nets to catch about 16 different species of fish found in the deep sea. These 16 species appear unique as they are virtually unseen to predators and prey.
  • Among them was unique fish with “Ultra-black” skin, that helped in the process of camouflage in the deep sea. This adaptation is only illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
  • The scientists found this potentially dark, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.

A group of marine biologists was able to find 16 species of “ultra-black” fish which absorb almost the total percentage of light that hit the skin. This unique feature has made them invisible to the other fish in the deep sea.

The researchers had published their discoveries in the Current Biology. They had caught this specific species after dropping nets more than 200 meters deep near Monterey Bay in California. The major reason for the species in this region to illuminate water through bioluminescence is due to fizzling of the sunlight at these depths.

But what if the fish in the deep sea don’t need to get spotted? The adaptation against bioluminescence is the ultra-black skin that is good at absorbing light rays. However only a very few species are known to possess this rare feature and they are some of the birds of paradise, some butterflies plus spiders.

The Pacific blackdragon | Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian

The researchers were unable to clearly recognize that the skin of the fish was ultra-black at the first sight. But, a co-author of the paper, Karen Osborn, one among them noticed a peculiar difference in the photos that she took of the strange fish.

“I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can’t see any detail,” Osborn stated to Wired. “How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?”

The scientists were able to discover a layer of organelles known as melanosomes in the skin of the fish when they observed a sample of it through the microscope. Melanosomes contain melanin which is a pigment that helps in giving the natural colour to the skin and hair of humans. Melanosome is the one which functions in absorbing most of the light that hits the skin.

A crested bigscale | Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian

“But what isn’t absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it’s absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it,” Osborn explained to Wired. “And so what they’ve done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else.”

Unusual terrifying deep sea creatures such as Fangtooth, Pacific Blackdragon, Crested Bigscale that appear in the deep ocean are more than faint silhouettes.

Pacific viperfish | David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL

However, this unique feature of them isn’t identified as an inherited trait. But this is identified as a trait which was developed independently. The ultra-black feature is used for different purposes by different kinds of species. As an example, the threadfin dragonfish only possess its ultra-black skin in adolescence. According to Wired notes, it loses this when it becomes defenseless.

Some fish like the oneirodes species, use these bioluminescent lures to bait prey. Therefore, the ultra-black skin has extremely evolved to avoid the reflection of light of their own body. Apart from this, species like C. acclinidens only possess ultra-black skin around the gut and it is to hide light of bioluminescent fish that they’ve already consumed.

However, these species which were noticed by the group of marine biologists are yet a very few since there are a lot more unrecognized and unseen ultra-black fish dominating the great depths in the oceans.

Source of the information:

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments