Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hatchet fish.

yea, yea, yea, they're not the prettiest fish in the world. But I assure you, while they lack in looks, they are extremely impressive animals. Here's why:

Camoflauge. This deep sea fish has many predators, but only a few that can find it. Partly because its mostly dark, but largely because it has incredible mechanisms for blending in. It has 2 ways of doing this:

1. Reflecting light. As you can see from the last picture, it has shiny scales. When turned away from a predator, it mirrors whatever color is beside it, making it essentially disappear.

2. Photophores. They have bioluminescent spots (like glow in the dark, but made with light-emitting bacteria) that are on the bottom of the fish called photophores and work in a mechanism called 'counter-illumination'. These photophores not only produce light, but they match perfectly the color of water above them, making predators below them incapable of distinguishing them swimming above from the ocean.

Other information: They live about 3600 m. below the surface of the water, and have eyes permanently fixed looking upward, suggesting that they eat things based on the silhouettes they leave, since the little light that exists comes from above. And based on its life cycle, it seems that they don't live longer than a year, typically.

Watch them and their camouflaging genius (start at about 6 minutes):

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