Monday, August 24, 2009

Wild Fact #998 - Deep Sea Attraction

Okay, so I was going to write about the interesting adaptation of Angler Fish using fluorescent light (caused by bacteria) to attract it's prey; however, I figure everyone has seen "Finding Nemo" and knows about the anglerfishes feeding habits. What you may not know is how these fish mate. The anglerfish that get all the starring roles in kid's films are females, as only they have the luminescent bait that attracts their prey. Males have no need for this type of fishing gear since they are much smaller than the ladies. The males are a parasitic fish that depends solely on the females to survive. Once the male matures he will seek out a companion and will bite her with his small hooked teeth (no, not in a kinky way). Once he bites her an enzyme is released that breaks down his mouth and her skin causing the two fish to fuse together (and you thought a wedding ring was permanent). Eventually, the blood vessels of the two fish join and the majority of the males organs disappear, with the exception of the testes. Basically, the only purpose the male anglerfish serves is to provide sperm to the female as she matures. At any one time, the female anglerfish may have up to six male fish attached to her. My guess as to the reasoning for this bizarre mating behaviour has a lot to do with the environment that anglerfish reside in. The dark, cold, deep and vast depths of the ocean are not a hospitable place and finding suitable mates may be difficult. By employing this mating method the females are almost guaranteed to have a suitable mate on hand when it comes time to reproduce thus keeping the population healthy.

I bet this post has given you a whole new opinion of the term "Free-loader"!


  1. I had no idea!!! How weird is that!!!

  2. Thanks for the comment! I thought this was a really interesting fact. Probably one of my favourite Wild Facts so far.

    I hope you are enjoying the posts.

  3. Any idea what their lifespan is? I'm too lazy to look it up.
    Aunt Bev

  4. That is a great question and the whole point of this site is so you don't have to look anything up. That is what I am for!

    Research on the anglerfish lifespan is difficult to determine in the wild due to the extreme ocean depths they can survive at. It has been documented that an anglerfish can live up to 100 years.

    Another interesting note about anglerfish is they can be compared to Lobster in taste and texture.

    Thanks for the great question!

  5. Hi,
    As I can understand, you are referring to the whole order of fishes(lophiiformes), when talking about the anglers. Only some species are eaten, and the deep sea angler is not on the menu(to my knowledge)..
    What I fail to understand is the reproductive method-do all the members of the order use the same way to reproduct, or are there any species that do it differently?

  6. One year later...