Hiding in Plain Sight - Frogfish
Contributed by Karen Stearns
Frogfish on the Reef
first glance, divers might mistake this animal for a
sponge. But a closer look reveals that this odd looking creature is
actually a member of what some have called “the ugliest group of fishes
in the sea." Frogfish may not be aesthetically appealing by
conventional standards, but their unusual appearance has made them a
favorite with underwater photographers, who will go to great lengths to
seek out these stealthy, slow-moving predators.
In addition to physiques and coloration that allow them to
sheltered reef and sand-bottom backgrounds, Frogfish have another tool
that helps them capture small fish, crustaceans and worms without the
need for pursuit. A stalk-like dorsal spine protruding from above the
frogfish's eyes is used to mimic and lure victims close, then the
frogfish opens a gaping mouth – which can expand to the full width of
its body – and simply engulfs the prey.
At an average of 10 to 12cm in length, the freckled frogfish would
considered mid-sized within the frogfish family, but small compared to
the giant frogfish, which is another signature animal of this region.
The giant frogfish can grow to lengths of up to 40 cm, and will
sometimes attempt to engulf prey even larger than itself.
The specimen in this photo was found idling on a coral
the inner edge of a shallow reef in the Wakatobi National Marine Park,
in southern Sulawesi. This particular species goes by several names,
including the scarlet frogfish, freckled anglerfish, freckled angler
and freckled frogfish. In addition to reefs, it can be found lurking in
areas of sandy bottom where there is sponge growth and leaf litter.
Like most frogfish, it tends to remain in a small area unless provoked
to move, and over time will take on the coloration of its
Frogfish hiding in plain sight
Can you spot the frogfish in this picture? Here’s a clue,
black blob in the middle.
Frogfish give the word “wallflower” a whole new meaning. True masters
of deception, nature has provided these squat and lumpy fish with
warts, filaments, stripes, spots and skin flaps to blend into their
background, whether it is a rock, a plant, a sponge or a piece of
coral. They can even change color—subtly or completely—over a few days
or weeks. This fellow was photographed on the House Reef at Wakatobi
- 'Frogfish on the Reef' by Mark Snyder
- 'Frogfish' by Saskia van Wijk
- 'Speckeled Frogfish' by Espen Rekdal
- 'Frogfish Hiding in Plain Sight' by Warren Baverstock -