Creature Feature: The Frogfish

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If you can spot them, frogfish are among the weirder creatures you can see at Malaspascua’s dive sites. Recently the stars of a viral video displaying them as the ‘grumpy old men’ of the reef ( video at the bottom of the page ), these creatures are actually masterful hunters. Perfectly camouflaged against unwary eyes they lie in ambush for unfortunate, fish and crustaceans that swim within their range.

Frogfish are not uncommon finds around our dive sites, especially at Deep Slope, which is a firm favourite among the dive staff. You have a good chance of finding the giant frogfish in a frozen statuesque pose here, but painted frogfish and even hairy frogfish have been sighted elsewhere.  These other species have algae or additional appendages covering their body to assist their motionless disguise.

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Frogfish have evolved unusual modifications to their fins rendering them not very good swimmers.  Instead, they creep slowly across the floor in a waddle reminiscent of a frog; hence the name.  The dorsal fin has undergone a more dramatic transformation and now serves as a predatory lure that can be extended out.  Some frogfish have different bait-like shapes on the fin, that can be twitched around as a tempting treat, much like a fishing rod.

Should this bait be taken, the frogfish is capable of one of nature’s fastest attacks!  In just 6 milliseconds they can open their mouths to 12 times its normal size and suck in the victim.

The perfect models for an underwater photoshoot, their endearing ugliness and awesome attack means frogfish are high on our list to find during dives!

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