The lantern fish is a type of deep sea anglerfish that has a long, slender body, and a long, slender tail. They are named after the way they use their lights which are actually lanterns on stalks.
These fish can range in length from 4 to 6 feet and have a distinctively large mouth full of needle-like teeth. (The largest known lantern fish was 6.27 feet long and weighed 477 pounds.)
They are a gentle, peaceful animal that usually does not pose any threat to humans. However, in some cases they can be extremely aggressive.
It is best to view these animals from a safe distance, as even the slightest contact can prove fatal. It has been documented that the bite of a lantern fish can cause instantaneous death. There have been numerous unconfirmed reports of fishermen being attacked by these animals, and one account even stated that the victim was wearing a scuba gear at the time of the attack. If you are out on a boat and come across a large school of lantern fish, it is best to stay away from them. Hopefully, this article will educate the reader on the nature and behaviour of the lantern fish.
Like many other fish, the lantern fish is a permanent member of the sea and is not truly a sea creature. They are a type of holocephalus, which means “single-headedness”, and the male and female of this species share the same brain casing. The lantern fish is ovoviparous, which means they give birth to live young rather than lay eggs. They are also mouthbrooders, which means they care for their young by carrying them in their mouth. Finally, since they are apex predators, they will often prey on smaller fish, especially during mating season.
As mentioned above, the male and female of the species share the same braincase, and this means they are very social animals that live in large groups called “congregations”. (This is why they are also often called “social anglerfish”.) They are known to be extremely faithful to these groups, and will defend them against any intruders. In some cases, they will even attack other fish in the area to protect their group. If this sounds aggressive to you, it means you are probably dealing with a different species; keep your hands off these beautiful animals!
The lantern fish is a streamlined fish with flexible bodies that are excellent swimmers. They have a very efficient swim bladder that helps them stay buoyant in the water. (This is another reason why they are often mistaken for sharks.) Thanks to these bladders, the lantern fish is able to sustain long, deep dives as well as frequent short climbs to catch their dinner.
These animals have very thick bones that are stronger than usual for their size, enabling them to withstand the pressure of the deep ocean. The tail of the lantern fish is relatively short, and is used to give the animal balance while diving. It is also important to note that the lantern fish is one of the few fishes that are able to see at night. (It has a very large eye on stalks, which are called “rostral arches” and are located just behind the snout.)
The mouth of the lantern fish is positioned above their braincase, which enables the fish to more easily target their prey. They have a particularly large mouth, which is actually the most significant thing about them. Other than that, the rest of their anatomy is fairly average for a fish of their size. (Tiny teeth line their mouth, which is fairly typical of most fish, but the body is rather skinny.)
With a name like “lantern fish”, one would expect the anatomy of these animals to resemble a candle flame. The reality is that the lantern fish is much more graceful than that, and the slenderness of their bodies gives the appearance of a long, elegant “snake”. (The elegant appearance of the lantern fish is most probably why they have been mistaken for snakes numerous times in the past.)
Their bodies are covered in light-emitting organs called “luminous organs”, which give them their other common name of “light-producing fish”. These organs consist of thousands of tiny bioluminescent cells that line the inner walls of the body, and their light source is located behind their head. (In most fishes, these cells are found around the eye area, but in the lantern fish they are spread all over the body.) All of these cells work together to give the fish their characteristic glow, and allow them to be seen at great depths in the water.
The luminous organs give the lantern fish their characteristic shimmering appearance, especially when they swim rapidly. (The reflection off the cells in their luminous organs is often compared to that of a jellyfish or a sea cucumber.) This shimmer is a result of the rapid movement of the fish, and it helps them appear larger to their prey. (Since they are ambush predators, their size is quite important in order to be able to ambush their prey.)
The skin on the lantern fish is covered in tiny pits called “operculi”, which give the animal the interesting patterned appearance they are known for. (This pattern is most probably a defense mechanism against their prey.)
There are many different color varieties of the lantern fish, however, the most interesting one is probably the yellow one, as this is the color of their luminous organs. The other colors are probably adaptations for camouflage, as they are very difficult to spot in the water when swimming or at rest. These animals are graceful, slender, and memorable, and have no real threat to humans. We just need to keep our hands off them.