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The Frog Fish


Submitted by admin on 2010-06-25

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A master of camouflage, and not the best looker out there, the Frogfish is an amazing example of how the process of evolution can mould a species into what is needed to survive in a given circumstance. The oceans are a hostile place, one needs only look at the survival rates of marine creatures to note that it's not exactly an easy task for an egg to successfully hatch and then still mature past the juvenile stage. Once they mature they tend to gain features which provide security and safety such as camouflage, harder shells etc.

The Frogfish is in fact a type of Lophiiformes. You know, the order to which the Humpback Anglerfish belong? Those scary fish that consume the whole bodies of their male mates by having their skin absorbed into them in a gruesome and weird death?

I personally find the Frogfish one of the most outstanding candidates for examples of evolutionary camouflage. There are numerous different Frogfish species and they all have their own unique camouflage, mimicking some other form of marine life or object. As far as defense goes, the Frogfish is very much reliant on it's camouflage, as it lacks scales or other protective measures on it's body. Due to the lack of protection, they have been known to be attacked and even killed by smaller fish. This makes good camouflage vital for the survival of the Frogfish. These fish are also very smart and their camouflage is not just limited to the appearance of its body, they will seek out areas where they will be camouflage, for example a Spotfin Frogfish will actively seek out a coral piece which best provides it's shelter for its appearance.

Frogfish also make use of a camouflage technique referred to as "aggressive mimicry", where instead of camouflaging for the purpose of remaining unseen for defense, they take the form of their potential preys meal. This then lures the Frogfish's prey into striking range, where they can then attack.

The Frogfish also has the ability to change it's colour, though studies are still not sure what causes the colour changes. These changes tend to last between days to even weeks.

They are generally between 3 and 40 centimeters large, and unlike most other fish which appear streamlined and sleek, the Frogfish has somewhat of a stocky appearance. Though the Frogfish doesn't need speed for the way it lives. It is an extremely slow fish and doesn't move very often, in many cases remaining in the same exact spot for hours and hours on end.

Frogfish tend to feed on other small marine life, though have also been known to eat fish large than itself and even eat other Frogfish.

They can be found in sub-tropical and tropical waters throughout the world, including the Red Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Unlike some of the other Anglerfish, like the Humpback Anglerfish- the Frogfish resides in fairly shallow waters, usually between 10 and 100 meters. Indonesia is known to have the largest variety of Frogfish, especially in areas like the Lembeh Strait.

    A few interesting facts about the Frogfish:
  • New species of Frogfish are still being discovered to this day.
  • 2005 saw the first preserved fossil of a Frogfish.

As stated before, there are various Frogfish each with their own special camouflage.

    Below is a list of some of the different types of Frogfish:
  • Butler's Frogfish - A rare Frogfish species which can only be found in a small area of water near Western Australia and New Guinea.
  • Sargassumfish - A type of Frogfish which has adapted special fins, gaining the ability to climb seaweed.
  • Psychedelic Frogfish - First described in science journal Copeia in 2009, this newly discovered Frogfish is proof that there's still fish we have yet to discover in the oceans.
  • Striated Frogfish - Discovered in 2005.
  • Ocellated Frogfish - One of the largest Frogfish, present in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.
  • Commerson's Frogfish

These are just a few of the 35+ named Frogfish species.

Not only are Frogfish evidence of evolution through adapting via camouflage but also through the use of propulsion. In the video below you can see how two Frogfish move across the ocean floor using their very frog-like 'limbs'.

So next time you're diving in any of the above mentioned areas be sure to keep your eyes open for what may be a Frogfish in hiding. Though for the sake of the Frogfish, be sure not to disturb it from its hiding place, as this will only increase the risk of attack from other prey.

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