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What is the Viper Fish?

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By Amber Friend

Underwater predators use many tricky methods to lure potential prey close enough to attack and eat them. Two of the most common predatory adaptations for aquatic animals are physical alterations to their body to either disguise their appearance (camouflage) and/or the ability to make parts of their body glow in the dark (bioluminescence). Both of these tricks have multiple purposes. Camouflage helps potential prey hide from predators just as much as it helps predators blend into the background, waiting for prey to swim or float by. Bioluminescence can be used to lure prey to within attacking distance as well as communicate with other members of their species or as a visual threat to encroaching predators. But as we will see with the deep-sea squid, there are still many mysteries about how predators use their unusual body shapes to feed on prey.

The Viper Fish
The Viper Fish is the one of the most unusual looking, popular and well known deep-sea fish. One of the fiercest predators, the Viper Fish is best known for its massive mouth and extremely large, sharp teeth that are so big they can’t even fit inside its mouth to close! Their teeth curve up almost reaching their eyes. The Viper Fish lures its prey with its long dorsal spine that is tipped with a photophore, a light producing organ. They use their photophore by flashing it to lure their prey close enough to eat. Viper Fish have been observed floating in the water motionless, waving their lure over their head like a fishing pole, patiently waiting for their dinner to arrive.

A viper fish.

 

SOURCES:
http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2013/squid-tentacles/grimalditeuthis-release.html

http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/viperfish.html

http://animalguide.georgiaaquarium.org/home/galleries/ocean-voyager/gallery-animals/tasselled-wobbegong

http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/viperfish.html

http://www.arkive.org/tasselled-wobbegong/eucrossorhinus-dasypogon/image-G17834.

http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/giant_flashlight_fish

 
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