While exploring the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, the team aboard the Okeanos Explorer recently captured awesome footage of an extremely rare fish. Discoveries are par for the course for the Okeanos crew, but this sighting is pretty special: it's likely the first time the elusive species has ever been seen alive.  

The fish, which has been likened to Falkor (The Neverending Story's luckdragon) because of its ghostly hue and googly eyes, belongs to the family Aphyonidae. These serpent-like creatures are distantly related to cusk eels like the bony-eared assfish, but we know little about their lives. 

The Falkor fish was spotted at a depth of about 2,500 meters and measured just ten centimetres in length. Until now, scientists have known these animals only from extremely rare specimens collected with deep-sea trawling and dredges.

"This is just remarkable," says NOAA fishery biologist Bruce Mundy. "There has been a big debate about whether these are pelagic or whether they're associated with the bottom. So not only do you have the first sighting, but you’ve got some of the first evidence to not necessarily solve that debate, but make a strong argument that, yes, the family is a bottom-living family.”  

For Mundy and his colleagues, the fish was a bucket-list sighting – one they hoped for but never expected to find in the vastness of the ocean. And now at least we know Casper the friendly octopus has some company down there in the depths: