It’s been a long-ass week. And next week isn’t looking better. But I would urge you to take a break from our never ending freak show on the surface and feast your eyes on one of the most amazing things you will ever see courtesy of scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus—this incredible eel.
The E/V Nautilus has been exploring the deep seas since 2008, with the twin purposes of doing science and discovering cool shit using remote operated vehicles (ROVs). On Friday morning, the team was poking around a hitherto unexplored area in Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument—a coral garden full of weird, twisting shapes that emerge in the inky dark 6,200 feet below the surface. But we’re not here to talk about that.
We’re here to talk about this:
On a Thursday dive, the team happened upon a gulper eel (also sometimes known as a pelican eel for reasons that are obvious if you watch the video). The science team has also dubbed it the “muppet of the deep sea.”
The video shows a thin, tiny eel that looks fairly run of the mill. But as the ROV approaches, the fun begins. The eels can open their mouths almost like it’s on a hinge, allowing them to hoover up a large amount of prey and appear much bigger to potential predators.
As the ROV nears, the eel goes full horror movie, expanding its mouth and rippling like an optical illusion. The best part of it all is the scientists’ reactions. These are trained professionals who have seen some seriously weird stuff and yet they can’t help gasping, laughing, and exclaiming things like “oh my god.”
It’s like watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 but without the snark. And with good reason—the deep sea is full of wonder.