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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sea Things #4: Frogfish

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.
From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized
Frogfish are weird, creepy little animals. They sit on sponges and lure prey with a cool fishing lure type thing that is on their head.  If a fish comes along and tries to munch on the lure, they eat the fish.  Cool, huh?  Usually, they will be found on sponges that match their own coloring (and they can change their coloring to match) and they are incredibly difficult to find for this reason - they look just like a sponge.  It helps that they are kind of bumpy looking anyway.

Frogfish don't look like fish, nor do they look like frogs.  They look like sponge, and they look like a little monster or a dinosaur or something.  And trust me, if one comes after you (which has happened to us, but this does not happen often at all), it's kind of scary.  Most of the time (99% of the time), a frogfish just sits there not moving at all, waiting for some prey to happen along.

If you are Australian or talking to an Australian, a 'frogfish' refers to a different kind of fish and what we know as a frogfish in the Caribbean is called an Anglerfish.  Otherwise, it seems that frogfish are found all over the place, but we've only seen them in Bonaire.  We've heard that we may see some frogfish in Hawaii when we visit in the fall.

I worry about Frogfish in Bonaire.  I feel as though divemasters are constantly pointing frogfish out to divers, and when we are on the island, the topic of discussion is often where to find a frogfish (what dive site, and where).  Frogfish stay for long periods of time on the same sponge.  The orange one pictured on this post is the same frogfish, taken on two separate days during our trip.  My worry is that the divers scare off the fish's food, and stress the poor little guy out.  Or, poor bouyancy destroys the reef around the frogfish and makes it less likely for prey to visit.  But, I don't know.  I can't ask the frogfish what he thinks.

If there is a hand signal for a frogfish, I don't know what it is.  This makes it difficult, of course, because they are hard to spot - even when you're staring right at them.  I honestly had a frustrated diver try to point a frogfish out to me for like 2 or 3 minutes and I was still convinced that she was referring to the unremarkable anemone nearby.  Perhaps someone can make one up, or tell me what one is, because I don't know it.

Here's a website about Frogfish if you'd like to see more...

From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized
Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it.

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