Moments of scientific discovery are not usually caught on film, but this clip of marine biologists finding a gulper eel in the Pacific Ocean is a rare and delightful exception.
The footage comes via the research ship Nautilus, which is funded by Robert Ballard (the man who discovered the wreck of the Titanic), on its mission of “pure ocean exploration.” For promotion and outreach, the Nautilus has been live-streaming footage from its underwater rovers for years. The videos are fascinating, both as a look at what lurks at the bottom of the ocean, and a glimpse of the day-to-day lives of these scientists. There’s a lot of drifting around looking at rocks and coral, and then — suddenly — a moment of delight.
This clip is the latter.
The group first spot the eel as just another dark shape that’s caught by the lights of their remote robot. They drift closer. “What are you?” asks ones. “Is it engorged or is it... like that?” speculates another. As they approach, the creature turns and shimmies in front of their camera, before stretching out its huge, gaping mouth. The scientists ooh and aah in appreciation, and you half expect them to break into applause.
It’s a beautiful moment... and one weird-looking fish.