Category Archives: Actinopterygii (Ray-Finned Fish)

Organisim of the Day: The Barreleye Fish!

Behold, the Barreleye Fish (Macropinna microstoma)!
barreleye

Well, that’s a strange fish… it’s almost like its head is…HOLY CRAP IT HAS A SEE-THROUGH FACE!!!! It has those sad little eyes, a pouty-lookin’ mouth and weird, greenish…brain lobes? Not quite. M. microstoma (a.k.a. “spookfish”), as other worldly as they seem, actually come from a place much closer than the alien planet you might suspect. It lives in the deep waters off the central coast of California, about 2,000 to 2,600 feet (600-800m) below the watery surface. To even see one alive requires a submersible, as they don’t survive long once removed from their native habitat. The image above was taken by an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in 2009. That’s fairly recent, and we’ve only been aware of the existence of this species since 1939. Its “face” is composed of a transparent dome (apparently rather delicate) filled with some fluid. Now, the transparent head is odd, but not super weird or mind blowing. But why would it need that see-through dome in the first place? It doesn’t need to see out of it or anything, its eyes are at the front. Aaaaaaaaaaaannd this is where it gets weird.

BarreleyeWithCallouts

So WHAT THE F@$% IS THAT!!!! Those are barreleyes. Eyes. In the shape. Of a barrel. Those things that you probably thought were eyes? Smelling organs called nares. Although not the only barreleye fish (family Opisthoproctidae), this is first we’ve seen in it’s natural habitat. It looks straight up to look for food (with it’s body horizontal), and then rotates its eyes forward as it turns its body upward to swim for the food source. So what do these guys eat? While we haven’t fully observed its eating habits, researchers hypothesize that it finds some siphonophores (jellyfish relatives), and steals food straight from their tentacles. Actually, that’s kind of badass. You can see a short clip of some Barreleye Fish here.

Note: I don’t own these images

Organism of the Day: Oarfish!

Finally, a fish! Jeez, it took me long enough! As usual, this is UNusual. Why? It’s big. Oh so very big

Mekongnagaoarfish13

RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!

I told you. It’s. Big. Oarfish are a family of fish, Regalecidae, with only 2 genera and 4 species. The largest species, Regalecus glesne, has reached a recorded 56 FREAKIN’ FEET LONG. It has earned it’s title as the longest bony fish on the planet. It’s relatives aren’t anything to sneeze at, though. They too can reach big lengths. Oarfish are not commonly found, at least by humans. They are deep sea dwellers, and live all over the world, excluding near the poles. They occupy the depths between 656 ft below the surface up to 3,280ft (although rarely). Believe it or not their goal in life is not to eat your face. They eat plankton, squid, crabs, and krill, with one specimen having around 10,000 krill inside of it at it’s time of death. They capture prey using special gill rakes on the inside of their moths (gill rakes sort of look like they sound). It’s body is, interestingly enough, not covered in scales like most fish, but rather in a silvery coat of guanine over it’s sensitive skin. They can have bright coloration when they’re alive. Despite what you may initially think, it doesn’t wriggle it’s body around to move. The fish keeps straight as an arrow, and has it’s dorsal fin, which runs along almost the entirety of it’s back, ungulate instead like a wavy ribbon. Pretty Trippy. It’s amazing we know so much about it, considering that the fist time we caught one on camera alive was in 2001. So, how do humans come across these peaceful, mainly loner fish? Well, when they’re dead, frankly. When diseased or pushed from their home by some reason, they come to the surface, most of the time dead. This odd fish spawned the legends of sea serpents. Look at this 1860 depiction of one that washed on shore, and tell me you wouldn’t have believed the sailor’s tales after that.

Giant_oarfish_bermuda_beach_1860

So why bring up the Oarfish? Several days ago, an Oarfish washed ashore on the beaches of Southern California, followed by another one several days later. Some people (like the Japanese) have folk tales that when the fish are found in high numbers on the beach, an earthquake is soon to follow. Scientists are trying to see if there is any truth in this adage, since the fish do live a lot closer to some geologic activity and may be able to detect this. Here are the 2 Oarfish that have washed on our shores in the past few days.

oarfish-5-things_72659_600x450The crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors hold an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island