Marine Marvels & Mysteries

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Each week LFM brings you a new tidbit from the deep.

The Ice Fish

And you thought Cruella Deville was cold-blooded. The ice fish, less commonly known as "
Chaenocephalus aceratus," was officially discovered in the 1930s in Antarctica, confirming stories passed on by whalers of its existence. This two-foot long, ashen-colored fish has a fierce set of jaws. It is also lacking in a certain sticky substance. Rather than blood--at least as we know it--pumping through its veins, the ice fish has a type of colorless plasma "composed of chemicals very similar to those contained in your car's antifreeze." It is this that allows it to dwell in sub-freezing temperatures. (Source: Ocean Almanac, p. 70)

Lasiognathus

The fish that comes with a hook, line and sinker: the '
Lasiognathus.' This deep-sea dweller hunts its prey with a pole of sorts, a lure that glows, and not one but three hooks with which to snare its dinner. The deep-sea angler fish and the Pacific frogfish hunt in a similar fashion. But what sets apart old 'Lasi' is its mating process. Be warned. This isn't science fiction.

The females, on average, are 50 times larger than then the male. According to the Ocean Almanac, in one species the female weighs in at 500,000 times more than the male. So how does their sex life work? The male is attracted to his mate by smell and by the light from her lure. Once he has selected a partner he bites into her side and latches on. For life.

Never again will he swim free. For the rest of his life he will be a parasite attached to the female and completely dependent on her. His mouth will soon fuse with his partner's tissue, their blood systems becoming connected. He will lose his digestive system and will be nourished by her blood flowing through him; his body will degenerate, becoming smaller and smaller. His only function will be to fertilize her eggs...

It's an odd fate, made even more curious by the fact that some females will have multiple males stuck to her side. But in the dark depths of the ocean where food is scarce, it isn't about finding your soulmate. This is a fusion of necessity. (Source: Ocean Almanac, p. 69)

The Moray Eel

This sinuous sea serpent seems to be straight out of The Neverending Story with ferocious fang-like teeth and a snake-like ability to swallow things several times its size. These nocturnal creatures average five to six-feet long, but can grow up to 10 feet, and are considered one of the most dangerous kind of eel. "Curiously enough, the tiny cleaner-wrasse fish and a small red-and-white banded shrimp are licensed to clean the teeth of the voracious moray with impunity. They are never harmed by their host." (The Ocean Almanac, p. 55)
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