Imagine You Are a Fish...

You are swimming down a dark area of the ocean; you’re cold, tired and hungry. You see a light, the only one you’ve seen in miles; it’s moving back and forth almost waving at you to come closer. You move toward the light, maybe they have food or is it the passageway to heaven? As you get closer you forget about your cold, tired and hungry feelings, all you care about is the light. You swim so close you can almost touch it. Suddenly you feel a vacuum-like suction, and in less than a second curved needle-like teeth penetrate your skin pulling you into the gut of a monster. I wonder if this is how the prey of the anglerfish feels before it is viscously killed.

The anglerfish is a very spooky organism.  You may even recognize it from its appearance in “Finding Nemo”. It has loose, thin scaleless skin that camouflages in with the sand it digs itself into, a bioluminescent fishing rod that attracts other fish to swim near its mouth, and retractable teeth. All these scary structures are used to capture and eat prey. Don’t ever think you’re safe; you don’t have to be any particular fish to make the anglerfish's stomach grumble. The monkfish is an opportunistic feeder- meaning it will eat anything and everything that comes its way. This villian doesn't work alone though, its sidekick, the bioluminescent bacteria that lives on its illicium, creates a glow that attracts prey. When it is hungry it moves its illicium back and forth until a fish comes close enough to eat. Since it is extremely dark in the depths of the ocean the only visible part of the L. piscatorius to its prey is this creepy lantern. Once the anglerfish is nourished by its meal it can in turn feed the bacteria and continue to feed on more fish (Lin et. al. 2009). Along with having some intimidating morphological features, the anglerfish has some chilling relationships.

When a male and female anglerfish meet up it is less than romantic. Once a male anglerfish finally finds a female mate in the dark abyss of the open sea it chomps into her saggy skin and eventually fuses with her. He will lose all of his independence and will eventually be used as a permanent sperm bank for his “wife”. Female anglerfish often have more than one sperm bank to use in reproduction. How emasculating! Coming in contact with an anglerfish would be a very scary experience if you were a cod, or other fish living in the same habitat (link) as an anglerfish. Therefore I have come up with some ways for fish to avoid an attack by an anglerfish: don’t swim in the dark, always look below you and never go toward the light! Good luck!

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