HATCHET JOB

Sport Fishing - - FISH FACTS -

A black­belly rose­fish that we caught while deep-drop­ping off South Florida coughed up this freak­ing cool lit­tle fish. What is it? Twig Tolle Mi­ami, Florida

What a great find, Twig! Your catch is a hatchetfish (fam­ily Sternop­ty­chi­dae) be­long­ing to the genus Ar­gy­ro­p­ele­cus, but I can’t de­ter­mine the species from your pho­to­graph. The three gen­era and sev­eral hatchetfish species in the west­ern Cen­tral At­lantic are sim­i­lar in shape (there are also more elon­gated hatch­et­fishes be­long­ing to other gen­era). All hatch­et­fishes have bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cent or­gans (pho­tophores); the ar­range­ment varies be­tween gen­era and species, but they’re gen­er­ally lo­cated on the lower por­tion of the fish’s body (vis­i­ble here along the bot­tom of this fish as a row of small spheres or dots). The ma­jor­ity of hatch­et­fishes live in the mesopelagic zone, at depths be­tween 660 and 3,300 feet, but some ven­ture into the bathy­pelagic zone (3,300 to 13,200 feet). Their max­i­mum length is less than 5 inches. Many are highly re­flec­tive, due to the pres­ence of re­flec­tive gua­nine crys­tals — the same ma­te­rial some­times in­cor­po­rated into the coat­ings on hard plastic lures, such as those bear­ing a “G-fin­ish.”

I never cease to be amazed by the con­di­tion of some fishes’ stom­ach con­tents. Your hatchetfish must have been con­sumed just a very short while be­fore you caught the black­belly rose­fish (Heli­colenus dacty­lopterus)

that ate it. I’ve seen in­tact arg­onauts and ju­ve­nile broad­bill sword­fish, along with nu­mer­ous sea tur­tles, taken from the stom­achs of dol­phin­fish

(Co­ryphaenus hip­pu­rus). One never knows what will be en­coun­tered when look­ing at the stom­ach con­tents of deep-feed­ing fishes! —Ray Wald­ner

+DWFKHWƓVK

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.