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The anatomy of the Coryphaenoides species Abyssal grenadier
(Thomas Linley)

Among the most charismatic of the deep sea fauna, fish are easily recognised but may prove difficult to identify due to their high mobility. This is also relevant during survey design as these animals are able to actively avoid sampling gear, leading to biases in the data.

At first glance many deep-sea fish look alike due to the development of a whip-like tail independently in many groups.

This is thought to maximise swimming efficiency at high pressure (Van Ginneken et al, 2005). It is important to not become fixated on this feature and focus on those features that allow the groups to be identified.

Fifty six fish species were known to be in the area beyond 3000m depth (Froese and Pauly, 2013) although many of these are pelagic. Sharks are absent beyond this depth (Priede et al, 2006), removing a large group from our consideration.

Identification Guide


Coryphaenoides morphotype


Synaphobranchidae morphotype


Bathysaurus mollis


Gigantactis morphotype


Halosaur morphotype


Ipnops morphotype

Ophidiidae morphotypes


Froese, R., & Pauly, D. (2013). FishBase. www.fishbase.org, version (04/2013). World Wide Web electronic publication. Retrieved from www.fishbase.org, version (04/2013)

Van Ginneken, V., Antonissen, E., Müller, U. K., Booms, R., Eding, E., Verreth, J., & Van den Thillart, G. (2005). Eel migration to the Sargasso: remarkably high swimming efficiency and low energy costs. The Journal of experimental biology, 208(Pt 7), 1329–35. doi:10.1242/jeb.01524

Priede, I. G., Froese, R., Bailey, D. M., Bergstad, O. A., Collins, M. A., Dyb, J. E., Henriques, C., et al. (2006). The absence of sharks from abyssal regions of the world’s oceans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273(1592),1435–1441. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3461