Bizarre: Wolf fish
Lurking in caves and cracks at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is a fanged fish happiest in water cold enough to kill most other creatures
The slippery fish with a dangerous smile
They have wolfish grins
Wolf fish get their name from their impressive fangs. Four to six sharp teeth occupy the front of each jaw, while three rows of molars sit further back for grinding and crushing food. To make sure everything is properly broken down before it reaches the digestive system, there are even more teeth in the wolf fish’s throat.
They can survive in icy water
Spending most of their time lying still in nooks and crannies on the seabed of deep parts of the ocean, wolf fish have evolved ways to cope with near-freezing temperatures. To make sure it keeps flowing, the wolf fish’s blood contains natural anti-freeze proteins that attach themselves to any ice crystals beginning to form and stop them from growing.
They swim like eels
Although they’re not closely related to the Anguilliformes, wolf fish are sometimes referred to as wolf eels. Rather than scales, the fish are covered in skin, making them smooth. Their bodies are long and they lack pelvic fins, resulting in a slow, wiggling style of swimming similar to an eel’s.
They’re in no hurry to reproduce
Slow to mature, wolf fish aren’t thought to start breeding until they’re at least eight to ten years old. Males fertilise females internally – a rare occurrence in the ocean, where sex cells are usually released into the water by both sexes of a species – and will stand guard over the resulting eggs for weeks until they hatch, fending off any would-be predators.
They’re unknowingly eaten
Wolf fish are caught for food, but they’re often sold in disguise. Cooked in fish and chip shops and prepared as fillets in fishmongers to avoid customers being put off by their unusual appearance, they’re given alternative names like Scarborough woof and Scotch halibut. Intensive fishing is reducing numbers, and their late breeding age makes it hard for populations to recover.