Barreleye Fish l Remarkable Head


Barreleye FishSource: Photographer: MBARI

The Barreleye Fish represents a small family of unique fish which live deep in the depths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They live in both temperate and tropical regions.

The common name of the Barreleye Fish derives from the unique nature of their eyes whose orbs generally develop directed straight upward. This serves as an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to see the silhouettes of potential prey. They also remain capable of moving their eyes in other directions.

People sometimes also refer to them as the Spookfish.

Barreleye FishSource: Photo Credit MBARI

Barreleye Fish Physical Characteristics

The spookfish remains known for the remarkable adaptations of its eyes. They grow extremely large and develop contained within a transparent dome of soft tissue covering the head of the fish. This covering protects the eyes from the attacks of predators and also appears to serve to augment their vision.

The mouth stays rather small and toothless.

In color, the Barreleye Fish typically displays a dark brown, though covered with small, silvery scales.

Most of the various species reach less than 8 in (20 cm) in length. However, one species does attain a length of as much as 20 in (50 cm).

barreleye fish, spookfishSource: Photographer: Unknown

Barreleye Fish Habitat and Life Cycle

The Barreleye Fish inhabits the pelagic zone of the ocean. They typically live at depths ranging from 1,312-8,200 ft (400-2,500 m) which places their habitat just below the limits of light penetration.

Looking up with their large eyes, they locate their prey by their silhouettes, while remaining unseen in darker depths.

Few details of their reproductive habits are known, although they appear to be pelagic spawners. Eggs and sperm are released into the water. Fertilized eggs are buoyant, and rise to shallower depths.

Once the juveniles reach adulthood, they descend to the deeper depths.

Check out our articles on Atlantic Wolffish, Stonefish, BoxfishSpotted Handfish, Jawfish, Fangtooth

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