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Batfish of Belize

Updated on August 27, 2010

A What fish? A Batfish!

It's been while but here I am again, writing about the wondrous sea creatures (aka monsters) of Belize. I actually introduced the Shortnose Batfish in my Hub, 'The Incredible Sea Monster Tour of Caye Caulker ' but I thought this fish deserved a closer look...

The Shortnose Batfish is an angler fish, its habitat is quite vast including the tropics of Central America. Its' Latin name is Ogcocephalis nasutus. I call him Grumpy Frank,and to me, this fish looks like he was about to evolve then decided not to bother. He's definately a lazy kind of dude.

Strange fish found in the shallows behind Caye Caulker, Belize
Strange fish found in the shallows behind Caye Caulker, Belize
Did he forget to step out of the primordial ooze?
Did he forget to step out of the primordial ooze?

That's not his nose!

What appears to be a longish nose is not a nose! Now why would he be called a shortnose batfish if that's his nose? That thing protruding from his forehead is a lure. It's kind of fluffy at the end and it attracts little fish, when they check it out, zuup!! sucked in and eaten by the batfish. The batfish basically sets up camp by a worm or crustacean hole on the sandy bottom. He waits patiently for a fish to investigate the lure.The batfish likes to eat little crabs and worms too. This lure actually shortens with age, so you can guestimate the age of the fish by the length of his lure!

Hmmm, what can I say?
Hmmm, what can I say?
A face only his mother (and I)could love.
A face only his mother (and I)could love.

Oh My Grumpy Frank!! What big lips you have!

Pucker up! The batfish can extend its lips for faster catching of prey, and kissing girls, not really! I always say, a fish this ugly and this easy to catch must probably taste terrible. I usually find these "angler fish" in shallow water, to capture one I slip my foot underneath his belly and bring my foot to the water surface, It usually just sits there while I explain to my guests, whats up with the batfish. I call this one Grumpy Frank, because well, look at him! He has his gills in his armpits and fish chew on his horn, and he is frowning all the time. Still he's one of the stars on my tour, and deserves the recognition.

Stylised pectoral fins
Stylised pectoral fins

Way Too Cool for School

This is a solitary fish avoiding competition with others of its species, everyone has a territory, so no schooling instinct at all, although you may find multiples in the same habitat, the invisible line in the sand is respected.

When you turn the batfish over, you see the pectoral fins have evolved into a foot type fin. These feet allow the batfish to walk on the bottom. Surprisingly this fish is a great swimmer, making a fast getaway if truly harassed. Crazy fish eh? It also has the ability to camouflage themselves changing their color to match the area he is hunting in.

I hoped you liked my story about Grumpy Frank the shortnose batfish, it's a pretty cool looking fish you have to admit. Well, I love him anyways. Please share it with your friends and children. Comments are appreciated.


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