Mar. 03, 2011

Science Rocks: A Song about an Anglerfish

by Leslie Taylor

Video by Vlogbrothers

The anglerfish is a deep sea dweller that uses an illuminated lure to attract prey. With a powerful jaw and sharp teeth, the anglerfish looks terrifying -- but it only grows to be about 5 inches (12 cm) long. Anglerfish have an unusual method of reproduction that is outlined in this song. Sea and Sky explains:

The deep sea anglerfish has an extremely unusual method of reproduction. The male angler is much smaller than the female and completely different in appearance. It is about the size of a small finger and black in color. When a male angler matures, its digestive system degenerates, making it impossible for it to feed on its own. It must now find a female or die of starvation. The male angler has small hook teeth, which it uses to attach itself to the female. Once he bites into her skin, he releases an enzyme that dissolves the skin of his mouth and that of her body. The two become fused together and their blood vessels join as one. The male will spend the rest of its life joined to the female like a parasite, getting all of his nourishment from her body. A female can carry up to six males on her body at a time. This bizarre method of reproduction helps to ensure that when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate instantly available.

Read more about deep sea environments -- and see video taken by deep sea submersibles -- at

Hat tip to Ethan whose favorite fish is the anglerfish

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at and She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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