In response to the perilous and opportunistic conditions of the deep sea, some deep sea anglerfish have evolved a very specialised method of reproduction - sexual parasitism.
Due to the fact that individuals of a species are locally rare, encounters between a male a female are very uncommon. As such, when they eventually meet, the fish employ a unique mating method that will ensure that they never separate again.
The fish display extreme sexual dimorphism, with males being many times smaller than females. The method by which a male finds a female differs across different species, but can involve sight or pheromone cues.
When a male anglerfish encounters a female, he latches onto her body with his mouth. He then releases enzymes that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, which fuses the pair down to the blood vessel level…
Like all anglerfishes, frogfish use a lure to attract prey, akin to a fisherman and his bait. Its front most dorsal fin, called the illicium, is topped with a lure, known as the esca.
While the rest of the fish is camouflaged, the frogfish waves and vibrates the illicium, causing the esca to resemble prey. Curious fish approach the lure, thinking that it is food. When it is close enough, the frogfish quickly expands its mouth and sucks in the prey, in as little as 6 milliseconds.
The psychedelic frogfish, Histiophryne psychedelica, is named for its psychedelic pink and white stripes arranged in a fingerprint pattern. This species was described in 2009 from three specimens collected off Ambon and Bali, Indonesia.
The psychedelic frogfish moves by walking on its pectoral fins over the seafloor. It can also bounce like a rubber ball, jet-propelling itself by forcing water out of its gill openings.
Twenty-four astronauts have been on or near the Moon; 12 of them landed on the Moon and actually walked on its surface. By comparison, three people have been to the deepest part of the ocean: Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in 1960 and James Cameron in 2012. Isn’t it time to do some more ocean exploring?
This July, follow along as 100 of the top ocean explorers gather at Ocean Exploration 2020:A National Forum to shape our nation’s ocean exploration program and a develop strategy for getting there. You will have the opportunity to provide input in defining the future of ocean exploration:
(About the image: An angler fish lies in wait on young lava flows from Volcano W, an active submarine volcano in the Kermadec Arc, located north of New Zealand. This species was previously unknown to inhabit in New Zealand waters prior to being spotted during an expedition in 2005)
This anglerfish lies half-buried in the mud or sand on the bottom of the sea, attracting fish to its huge mouth by means of its lure. Fish are drawn in by the sudden inrush of water. This method of feeding is a speciality of the various groups of anglerfish worldwide.
Anglerfish spawn between May and June in British waters, and between June and August in the North Atlantic. The eggs, numbering up to a million, are contained in a band of mucus about 10 metres long, released to drift in the open ocean. The larvae, when they hatch, look just as extraordinary as the adult fish. They mature at a length of 40 cm and at an age of four years for males, and a length of 70 cm and an age of six years for females. A fully-grown adult anglerfish may live for 20 years or more.
Biomimicry is one of evolution’s most mind-blowing avenues of adaptation. It’s one thing to adapt thanks to maxing out the biological limits of speed, or selecting for the ever-longer, better-feeding necks of giraffes or the ability to use a new, untapped food source at the bottom of the ocean. But to become another life form? It shows us that natural selection is not only a powerful force, but also a delicate one, fine-tuning things like colors and patterns like only the finest human artists can.
Anglerfish (TL), Viperfish (TR) and Stoplight Loosejaw (B - by Alex Ries), with a truly massive dislocatable jaw, teeth in its throat and “night vision” light organs that illuminate hapless victims unable to see the wavelength they emit.