Monday, 18 April 2011

Viperfish (Chaliodus Sloani)

The first thing I thought when I saw a picture of this creature was “holy **** that is scary looking!” Then after seeing a few more pictures it reminded me of one of my favorite games as a child. If you have played Mario 64 and you have been to Jolly Roger Bay, well this thing reminds me of Unagi the Eel, just remove the lure on it’s head.
This scary looking deep-sea creature is one of the fiercest predators of the deep, it uses it long fang like teeth and lunges at its prey and spears it with those fangs. They are so long that it can not actually close its mouth - they in fact bends inwards a little bit and then go into its head, they actually sit behind their eyes. The first vertebra behind its head is designed to be a shock absorber so that when it lunges at its prey it does not break its neck. Another tactic this fish uses to catch its prey before it shish kabobs them is a lure. It has a long dorsal spine with a photosphore (light–producing organ) on the end to lure in its prey. So deep down in the dark ocean a fish will be minding its own business than it sees something shiny, when it goes to see what it is… BAM SHISH-KABOBED!

Despite its horrifying appearance it is a small fish, only 30cm (11 to 12 inches) in length on average. It is known to be silver, blue or green in colour, have huge fangs, an elongated dorsal spine and photosphores along its sides. The photosphores serve to camouflage itself from predators/rivals and to help find mates. Not much is known about the reproductive nature of this fish as it only comes to the shallower waters of 600m (2000ft) at night and sometimes there are young seen at night as well. During the day they dive down to 1500m (5000ft). Being a deep-sea predator food can be hard to come by so they have a slow metabolism and large stomachs so they can go days without food. They mostly feed on crustaceans and small fish so need to worry about these fish devouring you while deep-sea diving. They have predators of their own, mostly from what we see it is sharks and dolphins, I guess only more epic creatures can eat some epic like the Viperfish.

As stated before we do not know much about these fish as they are rarely seen by humans so we do not know how many there are, reproductive behavior, lifespan or natural behavior. We have got most of our information from accidental catches from trawlers and other styles of fishing. They usually do not live long in captivity and we have not studied them much in their natural environment.

Lets recap: deep-sea diver, shish kabobs its prey, photosphore lure and a horrifying toothy grin! How could this creature not be EPIC?

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