Sunday, November 21, 2010
November 21, 2010 : Football Fish
The footballfish are a family, Himantolophidae, of globose, deep-sea anglerfishes found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Ocean. The family contains c. 19 species all in a single genus, Himantolophus (from the Greek imantos, "thong, strap", and lophos, "crest").
As in other deep-sea anglerfish families, sexual dimorphism is extreme: the largest females may exceed lengths of 60 cm (two feet) and are globose in shape, whereas males do not exceed 4 cm (1.5 inches) as adults and are comparatively fusiform. Their flesh is gelatinous, but thickens in the larger females, which also possess a covering of "bucklers" — round, bony plates each with a median spine — that are absent in males. Both are a reddish brown to black in life.
The football fish was first discovered in the early 1900s by deep sea fisherman in search of flounder.Their poor musculature and cumbersome morphology indicate that female footballfish at least are probably poor swimmers and largely sedentary, lie-in-wait predators. They are primarily mesopelagic, living in open water, with very few caught below 1,000 m (3,280 ft). Females are carnivorous and feed upon other pelagic fish (such as lanternfishes and ridgeheads) and cephalopods, as well as shrimp and euphausiids that are presumably attracted to within striking distance by the footballfish' luminous lure.