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Football Fish, Himantolophus sagamius

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Image result for fish football

Cabrillo Marine Museum Chief Aquarist Lloyd Ellis knew he had a neat surprise coming when on January 3, 1990 San Pedro fisherman Greg Boy brought in a black five-gallon bucket and said "there's a strange fish frozen solid in this bucket." Lloyd knew that if a fisherman found the fish strange, it had to truly be strange. Over the next two days, as the ice in the bucket melted, it revealed a beautiful specimen of a football fish (Himantolophus sagamius). After searching the literature, staff found that this was the tenth and largest specimen ever recorded for the species.

 
Normally found in the dark depths of the ocean, the football fish may not come across a meal very often, so it has a large mouth and extendible stomach to swallow live prey almost as big as itself. The prey is drawn near by the bioluminescent lures at the tips of a fishing-pole-like projection from the football fish's head. Finding a mate may also be difficult in the dark, so football fish, like many of their anglerfish relatives, have small males that bite onto the body of a female. Their skin grows together at which time the male becomes parasitic. The female provides nutrients and oxygen to the attached male. Football fish reproductive behavior makes one think of marriage vows, "till death to us part." When the female's eggs need to be fertilized, the parasitic male is right there to provide the sperm.
 
This specimen was carefully mounted in a tank filled with preservative and put on display in the open-ocean exhibit gallery where it is to this day. It's a great example of the help local fishermen have given to CMM and CMA over the years by providing unusual specimens that the sea reveals.
 
Marine; bathypelagic; depth range 338 - 1360 m.

Distribution:
Circumglobal in the southern hemisphere except eastern Pacific (Ref. 7300). Range extended to the Falkland Is. (Ref. 80772) and probably a first record in the Philippines.

Max length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed

Description
Dorsal soft rays (total): 5; Anal soft rays: 4. This species is distinguished in having the illicium with a bulbous distal light organ, originating from behind the tip of the snout; external second cephalic ray absent; esca without bony denticles; posterior appendage present, bifurcated at the base and each primary branch had a side branch near the base; distal appendage absent (Ref. 80772). Metamorphosed females characterized further by having a series of 2-7 filaments emerging from the anterior margin of the 2 primary branches of paired posterior escal appendage; posterolateral appendages simple or bifurcated at tip, longest is less than 10% SL in specimens less than 10 cm; presence of small dermal spinules on stem of illicium, escal bulb and escal appendages in specimens greater than 3 cm; low and indistinct papillae of snout and chin; skin devoid of white patches; caudal fin rays white or faintly pigmented in specimens less than 10 cm. Adult males with 11-13 olfactory lamellae; diameter of posterior nostril 5.7-6.7% SL, length of snout 17-18% SL; presence of about 20-25 upper denticular teeth and 22-32 lower denticular teeth (Ref. 86949).
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U/W Bike Race

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Lionfish Roundup

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