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Squirt here with an update from our DEEPEND crew! As you know, the cruise was scheduled to leave on April 29th! Unfortunately, the weather made it impossible for the team to leave port that day. I hear that the waves were ten to fifteen feet high and all the way to the first station DEEPEND was supposed to survey! The good news is that they are now at sea and won't be back until May 12th! That is a lot of time in the Gulf of Mexico!
Here we have a photo of the MOCNESS in action! Do you remember how the MOCNESS works and what the acronym stands for? If not, you can refresh your memory in one of our earlier blog posts under this link; http://www.outreach.deependconsortium.org/index.php/kids-blog/entry/the-mocness-monster
This is one of the very first fish our scientists have encountered in the Gulf of Mexico and it's called a frogfish! This one in particular is a larval, or baby, frogfish. You can clearly see the "fishing pole" (illicium) and "lure" (esca) that have already started to develop.
The whip-nose anglerfishes are pretty amazing fishes! Females of this species can grow "fishing rods" (illicia) that are nearly twice the length of their bodies! Can you imagine? The males, much like other oceanic anglerfishes, look nothing like the females. The top image (black background) is the male and the bottom image (blue background) is the female.
That's all for today!
If you have any questions for the scientists, leave them below!
Squirt here to talk about bacteria!
Bacteria are microscopic organisms that can thrive in many different types of environments, including our oceans! Bacteria have a bad reputation for making people sick, but they can also be incredibly helpful.
For example; some anglerfish (seen above) cannot produce their own light. Remember, bioluminescence is a chemical process that allows an animal to produce its own light. So how do these anglerfish get their glow? Anglerfish actually borrow their light from bacteria! These tiny bacteria, called Photobacterium, live in the anglerfish's esca, or lure. In exchange the bacteria gains protection and nutrients as the fish swims through the ocean. Pretty neat, huh?
This is also a great example of a symbiotic relationship! A symbiotic relationship is a type of interaction between different species. Sometimes they're beneficial and sometimes they're harmful, but these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.
Did you know that DEEPEND has a special team that studies these bacteria? Lindsey Freed and Dr.Joe Lopez are working on determining the species of bacteria found on these lures because it turns out that each anglerfish species actually has a unique species of bacterium it's paired with!
No one really knows how many different species of luminescent bacteria there are in total or how these anglerfishes are getting their bacteria in the first place. So far, there are tow different ideas. Either there are bacteria floating around in the ocean waiting to be picked up by the correct anglerfish species, or, these fish are being introduced to this bacteria by their parent during their larval stage (seen below).
Which method do you think anglerfish are collecting their bacteria?