10 April 2011

Where's the Frogfish?!

"Frogfish!" Travis exclaims. He points, and we say: "Where?!"
We were in the middle of the lush seagrass meadows of Pulau Semakau, and all I saw was a leaf-like scummy thing among the long Tape seagrass blades.

It was only after I REALLY looked that I noticed the fish! I have no idea how Travis spotted it! The fish was using its 'paws' to cling onto the leaf blades! These are of course not real paws, but modified pectoral fins. But the fins sure do look like arms, complete with elbows and little paws.
In addition to these literally handy paws, it seems to also use its tail and also a pair of clasping pelvic fins on the underside of the body. Here's a closer look at those pelvic fins.
The fish is superbly camouflaged, even when it's on open sand. Though the water was clear, under the ripply waves, it's hard to spot the fish. The rotund fish doesn't really swim, instead moving around in a sort of cute waddle.
Another fascinating frogfish fact is that it is a fish that goes fishing! The frogfish has a 'lure' at the to of its head. A slender filament emerges between the eyes, tipped with a fluffy bit which resembles a tasty titbit. While the fish remains completely immobile, it wriggles this lure right in front of its mouth.
Unsuspecting prey is attracted by the lure to come too close to the well camouflaged frogfish. And the doomed prey soon comes to an unhappy end. We have observed one frogfish 'vaccum up' small fishes simply by suddenly opening its huge mouth. The mouth is snapped shut again and the prey is gone. The frogfish itself didn't move towards the prey! The capture is so rapid that it's over in a blink of an eye. Wow!
Brandon and Travis spent more time with the fish and they later observed it 'climbing' back up among the seagrass blades. What an amazing fish!!

This frogfish that we saw is probably the Spotted-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus). More about the lure in the general description of frogfishes.

We also saw some other fishes on our trip. Like this happy little seahorse! It was bobbing around in the water before curling its tail around a seagrass blade. It's the seahorse that is rather 'hairy'.
We come across a 'ball' of baby Lined eel-tail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus). These tiny fishes looked like tadpoles and cluster together in a tight school among the seagrasses.
On the high shore, I saw a small pool ringed with tiny little rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae). They seem to have jumped out of the pool. Oh dear.
I was at Pulau Semakau to check for abandoned driftnets and fish traps under Project Driftnet, and also did a check on the corals here. More about this in this post.


  1. Amazing discovery of the frogfish! They are very rare to spot in dives.

    Wonderful to see that Semakau is gradually attracting the marine life - the 2 hawksbill turtles from UWS were known to have paid a visit there!

  2. Wow Shao Wei, great to hear the UWS sea turtles visited Semakau!



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