“Gulper Eel” One of the most bizarre looking creatures in the deep sea

Eurypharynx pelecanoides more commonly known as the gulper eel is one of the most bizarre-looking creatures in the deep sea.

The most noticeable feature of this creature is its gigantic mouth which is even larger than its own body. The eel’s large mouth helps it swallow much larger animals than itself.

This eel is sometimes referred to as the pelican eel. Even its stomach can stretch and can contain a large amount of food. Its umbrella-like mouth gives it the name the gulper eel. They tend to be much different in appearance from other eels. 

This sea creature has tiny fins which are almost nonexistent and small eyes, unlike many other sea creatures. The reason behind small eyes is to believe to trace the small amount of light in the deep sea. 

 They also have a very long and whip-like tail. This long tail helps them with movement and navigation.  The end tip of their tail is tipped with a light-producing organ called a photophore. The photophore glows pink and gives vocational red flashes. This process is known as bioluminescence. 

Their body is not buildup for chasing the prey and catching it. Hence it is believed that they use light from their tail to lure their prey close to them. As soon as the prey comes into the range of the gulper’s gigantic mouth it catches it very easily.

The gulper eels can grow from three to six feet. They are usually black or dark green and sometimes have a white line or groove on either side of the dorsal fin. 

Despite having, such a large mouth and stretchy stomach their diet consist mainly of small crustaceans. 

They usually do not go for the bigger fishes as gulper eels have tiny teeth to bite on them.

Their wide mouth helps them eat a group of crustaceans very easily. They can swim through a group of shrimps and just scoop a bunch of them in their mouth easily. They also feed on cephalopods (squid) and other small invertebrates.

When the eel is scooping out its prey from a large group, a large amount of water also goes into its mouth which it ejects out of its gills slits.

Gulper eels themselves are preyed upon by lancetfish and other deep-sea predators. There is not much information about gulper eels’ reproductive habits because they live in the deep sea. The only information gathered about them is when they are caught in the fishnets. 

The gulper eel is found in all of the world’s tropical and temperate oceans at depths ranging from 500 to 6,000 feet (about 150 to 1,800 meters).

Author: Prayagni

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