Unsolved:Bathysphaera

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Short description: Cryptid

thumb|right| An illustration based on Else Bostelmann's reconstruction "Bathysphaera intacta", the "giant dragonfish" is species of fish that was described by William Beebe on 22 September 1932, being spotted by the biologist as he descended to a depth of 640 metres (2100 feet) of the coast of Bermuda

Background

The "bathysphere", as termed by Beebe, was a new yet primitive invention. It was a rounded steel enclosure with space adequate for two people, its external layer being 3 centimetres thick. On the side, there was a single window, fifteen centimetres across. It was fitted with a heavy steel door that had to be bolted on. With no maneuverability, the navigation of this steel submersible was solely dependent on the ship it had been attached to. Beebe had no camera brought with him to these great depth, and instead described the species in detail to Else Bostelmann, an artist who proceeded to illustrate his findings.[1] From 1930 to 1934, this submersible was used by Beebe in his deep-sea expedition.

The encounter

"I saw it very clearly and knew it as something wholly different from any deep-sea fish which had yet been captured by man."

William Beebe, Half Mile Down page 172

Beebe encountered two fish, which he had described as "six feet long". He said they resembled barracudas, with short heads and jaws that were constantly opened. The fish expressed bioluminescence, as stated by him: "strong lights, pale bluish, was strung down the body".[2]

Bebe then expressed his justification for classifying them as dragonfish:

"Vertical fins well back were one of the characters which placed it among the sea-dragons, Melanostomiatids, and were clearly seen when the fish passed through the beam. There were two long tentacles, hanging down from the body, each tipped with a pair of separate, luminous bodies, the upper reddish, the lower one blue. These twitched and jerked along beneath the fish, one undoubtedly arising from the chin, and the other far back near the tail. I could see neither the stem of the tentacles nor any paired fins, although both were certainly present."

It was the first fish described by Beebe, which he gave the name Bathysphaera intacta, with “bathysphaera” referring to his submersible and "intacta", in his context, meaning "untouchable".[2]

Status of existence

thumb|left|[[Opostomias micripnus,
the largest dragonfish described]]

Of the six new fish described by Beebe, none of them were confirmed to exist. The existence of all fishes were confirmed by his colleague Otis Barton, who descended with him in the submersible .[3]

At the time, the largest dragonfish commonly attained lengths of 40 centimetres, a fact that Beebe acknowledges. He refers to the giant dragonfish as being "related to the scaleless black dragonfish ( Melanostomias bartonbeani)".[4]

Currently, the largest dragon fish species is the obese dragonfish.[5] Even then, its attained length is a maximum of 55 centimetres which is less than a third of the length of the fish that Beebe saw.

The status of this species remains unresolved, and has been deemed a hypothetical species or a cryptid by many.

See also

References

See also Wikidata entry {{{from}}}.