Anglerfish (Lophiiformes)

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Anglerfish are found deep in the Antarctic and Atlantic oceans. The females are larger, up to 3.3 feet, whereas the males are only a couple of inches long. In some species, the females have a fleshy growth on their head that glows, and they use it to lure fish close enough for them to grab and swallow. They can eat prey twice as large as their own bodies and have dozens of sharp teeth to hold onto their prey.


Deep sea angle fish Melanocoetus sp

Deep sea Anglerfish Melanocoetus sp

For a long time, scientists didn’t know what male anglers looked like. Surprisingly, they were right under our noses. You see, the male angler is extremely small compared to the female and have vastly different roles in life (this is called sexual dimorphism). Catching a meal isn’t their forte’, but finding a female angler is. Some male angler species swim around in the deep waters and find a female by homing in on her pheromones. If they manage to locate a female, they bite into her flesh and fuse their mouth with her body. The male remains attached drawing all of its blood and nutrients from the female. The male’s only purpose is to provide sperm to fertilize the female’s eggs. In some species, up to 8 males have been found dangling from the female’s body.


ZeFrank exaggerates, there is actually a little bit more left than the gonads. In most species, the male anglerfish is just as alive as the female until she dies. It’s funny to imagine though! 🙂


If you saw Finding Nemo, you may have seen a Deep Sea Angler! She, was a girl. 🙂



Please enjoy this video below featuring the Melanocetus species:

Video Footage: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute




(Header Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

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