Russian Fisherman Catches the Most Bizarre Deep-Sea Creatures We’ve Ever Seen
The images on a Russian fisherman's Twitter feed are astounding, but there is also some concern that his creepy catches are disrupting ocean life.
A Russian deep-sea fisherman has grabbed the internet's attention by posting photos on Twitter of his more unusual, and undoubtedly creepy, marine-life finds.
Roman Fedortsov works on a trawler based in Murmansk, Russia, in the far northwest. Many of the deep-sea creatures he pulls up look downright terrifying, but in his photos, Fedortsov appears to handle them without much difficulty.
Seeing such uncommon creatures is pretty shocking to those of us who don't regularly study the depths of the ocean, but to a deep-sea biologist, for example, Fedortsov's photos are pretty standard.
"No monsters here. Most are pretty small, a few inches long at most. Some of the shallower living, lighter-colored fishes might be a couple of feet," Professor James Childress, who researches the biology of deep-sea animals at University of California Santa Barbara, told Seeker.
Childress supposes that Fedortsov isn't specifically trawling for these creepy, crawly swimmers, but instead scooping them up incidentally with the rest of his catch. "I assume that he's just a commercial fisherman towing nets down to 600m or 700m at the most," Childress said. "These are presumably bycatch. There's always a lot of bycatch in commercial net fishing - stuff caught that wasn't the target of the fishing."
Given how rare the creatures in Fedortsov's photographs look to be, it seems as though capturing them would pose a threat to the species' existence, or possibly be in violation of a maritime regulation. Childress points out that some commercial fishing can pose a threat to bycatch fish, but overall, there's really nothing dangerous going on here.
"As far as I know, none [of the species] are endangered, though commercial fishing can severely deplete stocks of some bycatch species," Childress said. "While there are sometimes regulations about the taking of particular species of commercially valuable species, as far as I know there are no regulations concerning species such as these, which are of no commercial value."
Marine biology researchers, Jo Clarke of Glasgow University and Francis Neat of Marine Scotland Science, found in a 2015 study that the biodiversity of the ocean greatly increases with each 100-meter depth increase. Eighteen new fish species are observable with each additional 100 meters, and the catch-to-bycatch ratio increases as well. In weight, the catch-to-bycatch ratio is five-to-one at 300 meters, but at 600 meters the ratio increases to three-to-one.
In other words, the deeper fishermen fish, the higher the risk they pose on the ocean's ecology. But Clarke and Neat determined that a depth of 600 meters is a good compromise between the reality of commercial fishing and the necessity of maintaining the biodiversity and ecology of the sea.
Since Childress believes the creatures in Fedortsov's photos aren't from a depth greater than 600 to 700 meters, he likely isn't causing much ecological harm to the ocean.
"Really there is nothing here. Just a fisherman posting a few crappy pictures of relatively shallow living deep-sea creatures," Childress commented, not withholding his criticism of Fedortsov's photography skills. "They are very badly photographed. A shame to give it any attention as there are much better pictures and sites for deep-sea animals."