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Black Swallower (Chiasmodon niger)

The Black Swallower or Chiasmodon niger is a rarely seen deep sea fish found in the mesopelagic and bathypelagic zones at a depth of 2,300-9,000 ft (700-2,745 meters). This fish is known for its ability to swallow a fish up to THREE times its size! It accomplishes this by using its highly stretchable jaw and stomach. The Black Swallower will grab its prey from behind by the tail and then coil it into its stomach where it will be slowly digested. It also has sharp interlocking teeth which keep the prey from swimming away.  Meals come few and far between in the dark depths of the ocean and this adaptation keeps the Black Swallower alive even when days goes by without eating.

Black Swallowers are a relatively small saltwater fish, only growing to about 10" (25cm) in length. They are black in color with a blunt snout and a large mouth with canine teeth. They have two dorsal fins and an anal fin that contains a single spine. Their caudal fin or tail is forked. These fish have never been caught on camera, and what species have been collected are due to the fish swallowing more then it can handle. If the fish is unable to digest its prey quick enough gases will build up in the decomposition process, and force the Black Swallower to the surface where it dies.  You can learn more about the amazing creatures that live in the deep sea in the video below, including Barreleyes and the Deep Sea Angler Fish!

If you have any additional information about the Black Swallower please leave us a comment below.

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