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skull of lancet fish, Alepisaurus ferox, whose long, sharp teeth can inflict serious damage to mooring lines

Fearsome Fish

Skull of the deep-sea lancet fish, Alepisaurus ferox. In the early years of using moored instruments to gather information about the ocean, many moorings sustained gashes that some researchers attributed to bites from fish. Not everyone was convinced, though, that fish could inflict so much damage. To find out what might be making the cuts, WHOI engineers and scientists deployed test moorings. One mooring suffered more than 1,000 slashes during just 40 days in the water. Recovery of tooth fragments from the mooring revealed that the culprit was the lancet fish. The finding convinced skeptics that fish bite was a real threat to oceanographic instruments and lines. (Photo by Bryce Prindle, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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