Humpback anglerfish (Melanocetus johnsonii) | Characteristics, Habitats & Amazing Facts

Name - Humpback anglerfish

Scientific Name : Melanocetus johnsonii

Type : Aquatic Animal 

Age : upto 30 Years 

Diet : Carnivore

Physical Characteristics:

Length : 2.9 cm To 18 cm.

Weight : Up to 110 pounds

Top Speed : 0.24 body lengths per second 

Colour : dark gray to dark brown

Skin Type : bony

Lifespan : upto 30 Years

Current Population : 11 500 and 23 000 t

Current Population Trend : decreasing

Native : murky depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans


Main Prey : crustaceans, shrimp other fish and snails

Habitat : shallow, tropical environments.

Predators : Humans

Lifestyle : more active during the day 

Favourite Food : shrimp

Amazing Facts

·        The body is usually dark in colour, with brown and greyish black shades. Soft bones and flesh form the framework of their bodies.

·        Since they have such a large head, their mouths are similarly large and crescent-shaped, with large teeth. The nostrils and eyes are also very wide.

·        On both jaws, there are lines of very sharp translucent teeth.

·        The tail and spins have a coarse structure, with the dorsal fin having 13–15 (rarely 16) rays, the anal fin having 4 (very rarely 3 or 5), and the pectoral fins having 17–22 (rarely 23) rays each.

·        These creatures can be found almost anywhere on the planet, from tropical to temperate oceans, especially in the South and East China Seas.

·        The species can be found in the deepest parts of the world’s oceans, at depths of at least 3000 feet, where the atmosphere is totally dark and the water is close to freezing due to the lack of sunlight.

·        Since these fish live at great depths in the ocean, observing their behaviour in detail is difficult. The species’ male is small and light-weight, and he is not predatory, whereas the females are heavier and more dominant than their male counterparts.

·        Males lack the desire to kill their prey with the same ferocity as females. They’re ambush predators who sit and wait for their prey to approach.

·        The humpback anglerfish’s flashing lure on its forehead is used to attract prey. The fish use their lure to attract other fish, crustaceans, and other creatures for food by pulsing the light and turning it back and forth.

·        Unlike other anglerfish species, the humpback anglerfish has a limited breeding season. Male humpback anglerfish are built in such a way that they can find a female to mate with.

·        To locate the females in the dark, the males follow the scents of the body and the lure light. When the male is found, he attaches himself to the female with his hooked teeth and begins to drink her blood, supplying sperm to fertilise the latter’s eggs.

·        After a brief mating, the male departs from his partner in search of a new female to mate with. The humpback anglerfish reproduces by a mechanism known as external fertilisation (i.e., outside the body). The female humpback releases her egg (ovum) into the deep water column, while the male humpback releases his sperm, which fertilises the eggs.

·        The eggs are laid on a sheet of gelatinous material that floats on the water’s surface by the female. The eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on microscopic planktons before they reach adulthood. When the larvae reach adulthood, they return to the sea’s dark depths.

·        The young males are noticeably short, measuring less than an inch (3 cm) in length. After they hatch from their eggs and reach sexual maturity, they devote themselves to finding sexual partners, clinging to larger females with their teeth and developing the next generation of offspring.

·        Because of their unique body form, humpback anglerfish cannot swim easily. Nature has compensated for this difference by supplying them with a bioluminescent spine on their forehead that glows in the dark, attracting their prey. The light from their spine often shines brilliantly on their hideous heads, probably scaring away future predators.

The anglerfish’s mouth is enormous, allowing them to catch prey that is larger than the anglerfish itself. The rounded shape of their bodies makes it easier for them to swallow their prey. The teeth of the humpback anglerfish, like those of many snake species, are sharp and pointed inwards, assisting them in preventing their captured prey from escaping.

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