Story: Deep-sea creatures

Slender lanternfish

Slender lanternfish

In May 2003 a combined New Zealand and Australia research voyage, named NORFANZ, conducted biological surveys on and around sea mounts along the Norfolk Rise (in the Tasman Sea) at depths from 200 to 1,200 metres. Their findings ranged from commonplace species to some previously unknown. With the help of photographs and video, scientists were also able to gain information about the seabed habitat of these previously unstudied sea mounts.

This is one of several fish discovered on the NORFANZ voyage. The many species of lanternfish belong to the Myctophidae family, possibly the most abundant in the world’s seas. This species (Gonichthys barnesi) is named for the small light organs, dotted along their underside. The lights may be to attract mates and see their prey as well as to hide their own silhouette against the light, and can be turned on and off as the surrounding light varies. The fish migrate closer to the surface at night to feed under the protection of darkness.

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This image has been provided courtesy of the NORFANZ partners – Australia’s National Oceans Office and CSIRO and New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries and NIWA. The use of this image does not imply the endorsement of the NORFANZ partners of the content of this entry.

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How to cite this page:

Paddy Ryan, 'Deep-sea creatures - The mesopelagic zone', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 June 2024)

Story by Paddy Ryan, published 12 Jun 2006