10 Horrific Facts About The Deep Sea Dragonfish

The life of the creatures living at the bottom of the ocean can end in a split second. That’s because this obscure part of the world is inhabited by countless ferocious predators that have perfected their hunting techniques.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the deep sea dragonfish, a particularly scary ocean creature that definitely fits this description.

1. They are a member of the barbeled dragonfish family

The deep sea dragonfish is a member of the family Stomiidae, a ray-finned type of fish that live in the depths of the world’s oceans.

This family is divided into 27 genera and this particular fish is a member of the genus “Grammatostomias.” This genus of barbeled dragonfishes consists of 4 known species, including:

  • Grammatostomias circularis
  • Grammatostomias dentatus
  • Grammatostomias flagellibarba
  • Grammatostomias ovatus

The fish described in this article is known as the “Grammatostomias flagellibarba.”

deep sea dragonfish teeth
The scary-looking fish / Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

2. Even though they look scary, they are relatively small

Barbeled dragonfishes are relatively small, despite their scary appearance. They can grow anywhere between 15 and 26 centimeters (6 and 10.2 inches) in length.

The deep sea dragonfish is one of the smallest members of this family because it only grows to a length of about 15 centimeters (6 inches).

Regardless of its small size, it does have the appearance of how you imagine a ferocious predator to look. That’s mainly because they possess extremely long teeth compared to their body size.

3. They live in one particular part of the ocean

Even though these creatures may live in other parts of the ocean, they have only been found in two particular parts of the North Atlantic.

They are common in the areas off the south coast of Ireland. They also live further south in the Bay of Biscay which runs all along the west coast of France to the north coast of Spain.

When we refer to “found” we pretty much mean that these are the places they end up in the nets of fishing trawlers. You won’t come across these fishes any time soon as they live at depths of up to 1,500 meters (5,000 feet).

4. This member of the family was discovered in the early 20th century

The crew members of a shrimp trawler named “Helga” in the early 20th century must have been pretty shocked when they came across the first deep sea dragonfish in history.

This event happened on November 12, 1909, off the coast of southwest Ireland. They were trawling at a depth of approximately 1,280 meters (4,200 feet) when they caught it.

The newly discovered species was first described by Holt & Byrne in the year 1910.

5. They have a distinctive feature to lure in prey

The depths of the ocean are an extremely dark world as hardly any light from the surface can reach it. This also means that many predators have developed features to lure prey.

The particular feature of the deep sea dragonfish is a type of barrel that is attached to their chin which is capable of producing light.

The tip of this barrel can be illuminated through a chemical process known as bioluminescence. This is dangled right in front of their mouth and as soon as a poor creature comes too close, an attack is launched and the victim is devoured.

chin barbel deepsea dragonfish
Detail of the chin barbel / Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

More interesting facts about the deep sea dragonfish

6. Apart from being able to illuminate the tip of the barbel attached to their chin, these fish are capable of producing lights in other parts of their bodies as well.

Grammatostomias flagellibarba also has a photophore located behind in just below their eyes as well. Each side of their bodies also features 2 relatively small strips of photophores.

7. The color of this fish is black and the remarkable hanging from its chin can reach a length of up to 6 times the length of its body.

The sharp teeth of these fish are perfectly suited to quickly kill their prey as they are both very long and fang-like.

8. Another remarkable feature of the deep sea dragonfish and all the other members of the stomiidae family is that they have an extremely big mouth.

Their jaws are also equipped with a particular hinge feature that allows them to open up their mouths to over 100 degrees. This allows them to quickly swallow prey that is over 50% of their own size.

9. Apart from serving its purpose as a feature to lure prey, they also use their barrel to lure in potential mates. The color of the produced light is blue-green, the type of light that can be seen the farthest in the dark.

10. To make things even more fascinating at the depths of the ocean, these fish aren’t just ferocious predators but also constantly need to fear for their own lives as well.

The predators they have to fear are also capable of producing light. The moment they caught prey, they quickly turn off their light-producing organ to avoid being eaten themselves.

Equally amazing is that they have evolved in such a way that their teeth become invisible as well, all in order to avoid predators seeing them.

deepsea dragon fish facts
The fish Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/