Fish Found Walking in Gulf Spill

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Two new species of pancake batfish, which walk using their arm-like fins, have been found at the site of the Gulf oil spill, according to a study published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

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Both fish live in waters either partially or fully encompassed by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

“One

of the fishes that we describe is completely restricted to the oil spill area,”

says John Sparks, curator of Ichthyology at the AMNH. “If we are still finding new species of fishes in the Gulf, imagine

how much diversity — especially microdiversity — is out there that we do not know

about.”

WATCH VIDEO: A huge oarfish was caught on camera in the Gulf of Mexico recently, giving scientists a rare glimpse of the bizarre fish in its native deep sea habitat.

According to a press release issued by the museum, pancake

batfishes are members of the anglerfish family Ogcocephalidae, a group of about

70 species of flat bottom-dwellers that often live in deep, perpetually dark

waters. Pancake batfishes have enormous heads and mouths that can thrust

forward. This, combined with their ability to cryptically blend in with their

surroundings, gives them an advantage for capturing prey.

SEE ALSO: Marine Census Reveals Oceans’ Treasures, Threats

They use their stout,

arm-like fins to walk awkwardly along the substrate; their movements have

been described as “grotesque,” resembling a walking bat. As most

anglerfishes, batfishes have a dorsal fin that is modified into a spine or

lure, although their lure excretes a fluid to reel in prey instead of

bio-illuminating.

Sparks says the new “discoveries underscore the potential loss of undocumented biodiversity that a

disaster of this scale may portend.”

SEE ALSO: Oil Spill Threatens Funky Flat Fish: Big Pic

(Other species of fish walk too. The below video, for example, shows Australia’s spotted handfish.)

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