Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barnard's Lanternfish

Symbolophorus barnardi
Today's animal is one of those mysterious deep-sea dwellers that we don't often see, despite their massive range and huge population. It is called the Barnard's Lanternfish , and it gets its name from the bioluminescent photophores that allow its head, underside, and tail to light up!

Studies have shown that this Lanternfish, and other members of its family, make up more than half the biomass down in the deep sea, and they live in ocean waters across the globe! Today's species in particular is a small little guy that can be found throughout the Southern Hemisphere, living at depths of up to 3,000ft, though they tend to come up closer to the surface during the night, and can be found in waters as shallow as 350ft.

If the fish can be found in (relatively) shallow waters, why bother diving so far down during the daytime? This behavior takes place in order to avoid becoming someone's dinner. Barnard's Lanternfish are a great food source for larger ocean-dwelling animals, so they dive down to avoid predation when those animals are doing most of their hunting. The Lanternfish then come closer to the surface so that they themselves can feed on the plankton that live there.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Southern Hemisphere
Size : Body Length up to 6in (15cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Myctophiformes
Family : Myctophidae -- Genus : Symbolophorus -- Species : S. barnardi

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