As far as oil spill poster animals go, the pancake batfish seems unlikely to capture any hearts. "They're really weird," says Prosanta Chakrabarty, an ichthyologist at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge.
Two types of communities exist on the deep sea floor of the gulf. Where hydrocarbons seep out of the sediment, clams and mussels live with symbiotic bacteria that tap sulfide or methane for energy. In the same areas, polychaete tubeworms grow up to several meters long and can live for centuries.