What we have here is a Gulper Eel. Indeed, one particular kind of Gulper Eel. They aren't considered true eels, although they are much more closely related to them than a lot of other long, thin fish that get called eels.
Very few of those other fish could be quite as long and thin as a Gulper Eel. The front end is dominated by a gigantic gob, the rest attenuates into a minimalist tail that can take up more than half the animal's entire length.
But what do I mean by "one particular kind of Gulper Eel"?
The fact is, there are at least 2 slightly different but closely related fish that get called by this name. The fellow above is known as a Gulper or Swallower. They are relatively new to me, actually...
|Image via Wikipedia|
They naturally get their name, all their names, from the incredible extent to which their jaws can open. Their stomach looks PUNY compared to the volume of stuff they can hold in their jaws. In fact, their mouth can open wide enough to swallow things BIGGER than itself! Which is... good? Their stomach can also expand to hold whatever their mouth can hold, which I'm sure is really useful. Never bite off more than you can chew, except they don't bite bits off or chew, they just swallow.
After the massive mouth and the stomach which may or may not be bulging grotesquely, there is the long, thin tail which is used to swim. There is a light emitting organ right at the end, meaning that it's possible that this eel gets into some weird positions to hold the tip of its tail right near its mouth to attract prey. Along its sides is the lateral line, hairs that detect vibrations and movement around it. Pelican Eels don't have them in grooves like most other fish, they instead stand right out into the water, probably aiding in sensitivity.
Tropical and subtropical waters across the world are graced with this morbid beast of hunger. They have no scales, no pelvic fins and no swim bladder. They can reach a metre in length and usually live at depths of 1200 - 1400 m (4,000 - 4,600 feet), although they can range well beyond that.
|Image source, eol|
They have the same tiny eyes at the tip of the upper jaw, the same long, thin tail ending in a light emitting photophore, they still look ugly, but their stomach is bigger (at rest) and their mouth smaller. The biggest one's may reach 2 metres in length, though most of that will be the tail. They are soft and weak, most of their muscular power is devoted to opening those jaws quickly. Once opened, water will pour in and take whatever prey right along with it. Easy! Sometimes it seems like these guys got the simple life...