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Scientific Classification
  • Bathylychnops
  • Dolichopteroides
  • Dolichopteryx
  • Ioichthys
  • Macropinna
  • Monacoa
  • Opisthoproctus
  • Rhynchohyalus
  • Winteria
Another barreleye.jpg
Macropinna microstoma (Pacific Barreleye)

Recently rediscovered, the barreleye, also known as the spookfish, is most known for its unique tubular eyes. These eyes aid the fish in coordination in the dark and can pinpoint the bioluminescent nematocysts of various jellyfish. The dome over its eyes exemplifies biomimicry pertaining to the canopies of jet fighter planes. The main places it is found is off the coasts of California and the Pacific Ocean. It spawns by egg and sperm meeting together in water. They grow to be approximately 6 inches. The barreleye preys on various cnidarians and plankton and sometimes even steals food from other organisms! Otherwise, it spends its life motionless and in ambush, waiting for a snack.

Body Design

A barreleye fish's eyes are the most prominet feature with unique structure and use.

The barreleye fish is most known for its unique eyes and canopy, but its other features are often overlooked. It has been noticed that its most common length is about 6 inches, but larger varieties have been found at approximately a foot and a half. Adult colorization is dark brown, while its fins are colored a silvery white. However, on one kind of barreleye, the Dolichopteryx lacks scales and remains a bright, clear white. These colors can result in camouflage; since it is below its prey, the prey may mistake its white sheen for a pocket of light. The fins are flat for the use of staying motionless waiting to ambush prey. [2]

The barreleye's bright green eyes are hidden and protected by a transparent shield. Behind this shield, fluid fills up empty space and also serves as security for the tubular eyes. The canopy also protects the fish's eyes from the stinging cells of its prey. This dome allows the fish to rotate its eyes either straight up or forward. The barreleye's eyes also absorb light. The green pigments in the eyes may filter out sunlight coming directly from the sea surface, helping the fish to spot the bioluminescent light of some jellies as well as other targeted snacks. [3]

The two spots just above the fish’s mouth are called nares, which are its olfactory organs, even though they are mistaken for eyes. These can be compared to human nostrils, as they are uncannily similar. It has been found to have no teeth. Although their mouths are small, the barreleye can still consume many animals; its digestive systems are large. When a barreleye fish was once caught, many fragments of jellyfish were found in its stomach. They also have large, flat fins attached to their bodies that let them remain almost motionless in the water, and to maneuver very precisely when they need to. If they perform sudden or intense movements, they can break their fragile dome that covers their head. [4]

Life Cycle

Not much is known about a barreleye fish's reproduction but it has been concluded that they are oviparous (egg-laying) with planktonic larvae. They are also thought to be pelagic spawners, which means that females will lay eggs in water and males will release sperm into the water. After this, the eggs will be fertilized in the water. These fertilized eggs are buoyant and they will float around in shallow depths and drift with passing currents. As they grow into adults, the barreleye fish will gradually move into greater depths where they will learn to survive. They are very solitary and do not perform migrations during the day and night. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) used a remotely controlled vehicle (ROV) to survey the barreleye in its natural habitat. The ROV recorded it just stationary and motionless throughout the whole time, with the help of its flat fins. [5]


Barreleye fish eat certain cnidarians, such as jellyfish.

The barreleye fish lives in a temperature range of 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit, living alone and not in groups or schools. It is a deep-sea fish found in relatively temperate waters, such as the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. However, they are mostly found off the Californian coast and the North Pacific region. It can be caught at depths of 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The barreleye captures food with the help of its peculiar eyes. With its body horizontal and eyes directed vertically, it sees food against lighted waters above (as it is a deep-sea fish), waiting in an ambush. It then pivots its body to bring the mouth up for the ingestion of prey, while its eyes are still focused on the target. When the barreleye feeds, its eyes point forward. Its prey includes cnidarians, jellyfish, various zooplankton, small fish, and tentacles and nematocysts of siphonophores. Sometimes, it uses its ability to move accurately to steal food from these siphonophores. [6]


The barreleye exhibits biomimicry through the resemblance to the canopy of jet fighter planes.

Humans have used God's creation for many various inventions, such as burrs and velcro, mosquitos and numbing needles, kingfishers and bullet trains, and much more. This use is known as biomimicry, which is using the models and patterns of Creation to improve daily living and technology. The barreleye fish's biomimicry example is its transparent dome. Jet fighter's planes have a way for the pilot to see out of the cockpit: a glass canopy much like the canopy over the barreleye fish's eyes. It maintains for the pilot a great field of view of the sky and also provides a controlled air pressure rate. This is very useful for aerial coordination and safety. Also, the dome helps the jet fighter to increase speed because it creates no resistance against the strong winds. The barreleye's canopy allows it to glide through the water with no resistance also, like the jet fighter plane. The difference between the domes is: the one used by the barreleye fish is used in very dark and deep waters while the one used by humans is utilized in the air. [7]


Short video surveying a barreleye in its natural habitat.


  1. Opisthoproctidae Wiki Species. Web. Accessed April 20 2018. Author unknown.
  2. Meet the Barreleye Fish Futurism. Web. Published November 12, 2013. Author Unknown.
  3. Barreleye Fish Animal Spot. Web. Accessed April 20, 2018. Author Unknown.
  4. McClain, Craig. Scientists Solve The Mystery Of Why This Fish Is So Freakin’ Crazy Deep Sea News. Web. Published on February 23, 2009.
  5. Baidya, Sankalan. 30 Barreleye Fish Facts: It's Truly Bizarre Facts Legend.. Published October 17, 2017.
  6. Pacific Barreleye Encyclopedia of Life. Web. Accessed April 17, 2018. Author unknown.
  7. The Fish With the Transparent Head Twisted Sifter. Web. Published September 6, 2012. Author unknown.