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What is a Barreleye?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A barreleye, of the family Opisthoproctidae, is a type of deep sea fish generally found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. It is characterized by barrel-shaped eyes which generally point straight up. The body of this animal might be short and wide or long and slender. These fish do not have a spine, but they do usually have a long pectoral fin that somewhat resembles a wing.

This fish is usually found in waters that are anywhere from 1,311 feet (about 400 m) to 8,197 feet (about 2,500 m) deep. They generally prefer to stay in areas that are too far down for light to penetrate. They are widely distributed throughout the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific ocean areas, but are not usually found in other salt-water bodies.

They are solitary creatures that typically live and travel alone. They also do not mate with others directly. Instead, eggs are released by females and sperm by males into the water. When these two unite, a baby barreleye is then produced.

The most common feature of a barreleye is that of its eyes. These mechanisms typically point straight up, but can also move forward in some cases. The fact that these organs allow the fish to look above them also makes it easy for them to spot prey. It has also earned this species the nickname spook fish.

A barreleye can be long and slender or short and wide. Both types generally have a slightly curved back. They are typically gray or black in color with a clear-looking head and fins. They may sometimes appear to have scales or a diamond-shaped pattern along their sides as well.

This species does not have a spine or teeth. It does, however, have a skull; its eyes, in fact, protrude directly from this bone. They do have a pectoral fin that is somewhat large in relationship to the rest of the fish's body. This part may somewhat resemble a wing and is believed to be used for keeping the fish steady while swimming in the deep waters in which it lives.

Barreleye are a unique species of fish that are plentiful in many areas throughout the world. Studying their behaviors can be both educational and fun for people of all ages. This is especially true given the fact that many individuals may never get an opportunity to see one of these animals close up due to the depth of water they normally inhabit.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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