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Monkfish is a common name for species found within the genus Lophius. Goosefish, Anglerfish and Frogfish are also names sometimes bestowed upon these strange Lophiiformes. (Hey, that's two in one week! Go Lophiiformes!) The various species live in the benthic (ocean-bottoms) zones of the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. The discrepancy in common names comes from the locations in which the fish is found.

Image from Maryland Recreational Fisheries
Anatomically Monkfish have some interesting features. Their mouth is gigantic, and they are extremely opportunistic eaters. They'll eat fish, (including other Monkfish) crustaceans, mollusks and even seabirds. They can consume prey that is nearly as large as they are. Like many other anglerfishes, Monkfish have spines that can be bent forward to dangle in front of the fish's mouth to act as a lure for prey. There is some sexual dimorphism within the species. Females tend to be a few inches longer, (they can grow longer than 3 feet) and live a few years longer then the males. Males and females reach sexual maturity between 3 and 4 years of age and the eggs masses that are laid are buoyant and float on the ocean surface before hatching.

Monkfish were initially cast aside when they showed up in catches with cod and scallops, but it was discovered that their tails and livers were indeed edible. They are consumed as delicacies, and are sold under the names Anko and Ankimo when used within a sushi or sashimi context. Overfishing has severely damaged their populations, and while rebuilding plans have helped to recover some of their numbers, Seafood Watch still lists them as a species to avoid. They methods used in their fishing can also be damaging to ocean environments, as bottom trawls damage the sea floor and gillnets often catch other threatened species, like sea mammals and turtles.


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For anyone who was counting, yesterday was our birthday-- four years! Four years filled with animals from A to Z, more than 1,100 of them! I can't thank my readers enough, it's been wonderful! And in celebration of that milestone... I'm taking a break. Hopefully not forever, but for a little bit at least. In the mean time I plan on getting a new layout out, along with some updates to some of the older articles. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page, I'm also brainstorming some new animal-related projects, so keep an eye out! Thanks again for four awesome years!