This week researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute broke the news that they had found the answer to that seventy-year-old question – why in God’s name would a fish have giant green tubular eyes that could only see up? It’s not like it could just open its mouth whilst looking in an entirely different direction and hope for the best, given that said mouth is so delightfully wee. The Pacific barreleye, or Macropinna microstoma, was first discovered in 1939, but only until recently has been observed as mangled remains caught up in deep-sea trawls, their upward-facing eyes bewildering scientists for decades.
The above picture was released on Monday by Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler, but has been kept under wraps since 2004, when live specimens were observed for the first time at 600-800 metres below the surface using submerged remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). It turns out the barreleye has a transparent head-canopy filled with clear fluid within which its eyes can rotate forwards, sideways and upwards to view its surroundings and monitor prey. Watch the clip below to see a barreleye outsmart a ROV, and to hear Robison’s unintentionally-charming voiceover.