Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commersoni) by Samantha Craven
The unusual appearance of the frogfish is designed to conceal it from predators and sometimes to mimic a potential meal to its prey. For the scaleless and unprotected frogfish, the camouflage is an important defense against predators. Some frogfish can also inflate themselves, like pufferfish, by sucking in water in a threat display.
Frogfish generally do not move very much, preferring to lie on the sea floor and wait for prey to approach. Once the prey is spotted, they can approach slowly using their pectoral and pelvic fins to walk along the floor.
Frogfish: The Ocean’s Disguise Artists
Biomimicry is one of evolution’s most mind-blowing avenues of adaptation. It’s one thing to adapt thanks to maxing out the biological limits of speed, or selecting for the ever-longer, better-feeding necks of giraffes or the ability to use a new, untapped food source at the bottom of the ocean. But to become another life form? It shows us that natural selection is not only a powerful force, but also a delicate one, fine-tuning things like colors and patterns like only the finest human artists can.
Above are three examples of frogfish biomimicry, a family of fish that separately mimics algae, sponges and even sea urchins. They evolved these costumes as a way to avoid predators and become better predators themselves. Check out an in-depth post about frogfish biomimicry at Why Evolution is True (wait until you see them eat!), and if you want more here’s a whole website (Comic Sans warning!) dedicated to frogfish camo.
I’ll have all of them, thanks.
Big love to frog fish. Big big love.
Frogfish are the masters of camouflage, being able to mold their bodies to mimic sponges and corals. Some specimens even have filamentous patches simulating algal growth.
The frogfish uses its invisibility as a hunting method - a it flickers a small lure above its mouth, attracting prey to the seemingly safe ‘rock’. It is able to swallow prey in as fast as 6 milliseconds.
Rick Colllier on Flickr
Another Clown Frogfish that lives at Wainilu
A hairy frogfish which was photographed taking a leisurely walk on the seabed in the Lembeh Straits of Sulawesi, Indonesia, by Choh Wah Ye, an engineer from Malaysia.
Definitely one for the wish list!
Frogfish (Antennarius sp.) by Samantha Craven
This ~15cm Frogfish was well disguised in frilly looking algae. We’d seen it snorkelling, but it was fricking awesome to spend time with it without feeling my lungs were going to burst. Unfortunately I was called away to look at a tiny (as yet unidentified) Seahorse. Life’s so hard sometimes.
Can anyone help ID it?
Native to the waters of Indonesia, the Psychedelic Frogfish has forward-facing eyes, a face with fleshy cheeks and chin that can flatten or elongate. It has pectoral fins adapted for walking along the sea floor, and a jet-propulsion system to enable swimming forward.
Tassled frogfish. Anilao, Philippines.