Vertical body orientation by a snipe eel (Nemichthyidae, Anguilliformes) in the deep mesopelagic zone along the West Mariana Ridge

Michael J. Miller, Sumihiro Koyama, Noritaka Mochioka, Jun Aoyama, Shun Watanabe, Katsumi Tsukamoto

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Abstract

A nemichthyid eel apparently of the genus Avocettina was observed and video recorded during the day from a submersible operating above the deep western slope of the West Mariana Ridge at a depth of about 800 m. The eel was oriented vertically, head-upward, with its long-thin body held rigidly straight. It remained motionless for more than 1 min except for small constant oscillations of the tip of the tail. It showed no reaction to the presence of the approaching submersible until contacting it. This body position has been seen in nemichthyid eels previously by submersibles in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. It is postulated to be a prey or predator detection tactic that optimizes the use of the visual or lateral line senses. It may also be an efficient way to maintain a position or to move slowly through the water column without disrupting sensory function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science

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