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Small Fish and Lobster Fascinate on 2022 Spring Bottom Trawl Survey

April 08, 2022

It’s just Leg 1 and Mother Nature has already awed our biology crew.

A color image. A fish is laid on its side on a light colored background. The fish is nearly rectangular, but rounded at the head and tail. Its body depth is consistent, narrowing slightly where it attaches to the stubby tail.  Its head has a steep profile, a prominent, button-like eye, and a small mouth close to the base of the head. The body is light colored, with pastel colored, irregular stripes.

We’ve kicked off our field season with the spring bottom trawl survey on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow. I’m currently sailing on leg 2. We plan to work our way into Cape Cod Bay and Massachusetts Bay in the next couple days. Leg 1 covered the southern portion of the survey that reached down to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. When I arrived on board, the leg 1 scientists filled me in on really interesting catches. Those pictures are below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Silver Hatchetfish, Argyropelecus aculeatus

Color image. A small, short-bodied, hatchet-shaped, flat fish on a textured, light-colored background.
This little silver fish has a large mouth and is covered with photophores. It lives in the mesopelagic zone of the ocean (between 200 and 1000 meters). Photophores are special light-producing structures that help the fish camouflage itself by changing color to better blend in with its surroundings. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Katelyn Depot

Larval Lobster

Two color images side-by-side. At left a spidery, transparent lobster larva about two inches long is held by its tail  between the thumb and middle finder of the researcher. Its eyes, body and legs are clearly visible. At right, the same animal is laid flat on its back on a steel counter, its eye stalks and legs splayed out to see them clearly.
This cartoonish creature is the first example I've ever seen of a phyllosoma, which is the pelagic, larval stage of slipper and spiny lobsters. While in this stage, they may feed on soft prey, such as salps and jellyfish. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Megan Barry

Also, here is a fun video from Japan of a phyllosoma hitchhiking on a jellyfish

Batfish, Family Ogcocephalidae

A color image. A rough-skinned, medium colored fish with a long tail and long nose attached to a triangular body. The side fins have thickened structures that look like feet. The fish is laid on its underbelly on a light colored, textured background.
Batfish can be tricky to identify so this tiny fellow will be examined back at the lab. These fish are poor swimmers and have modified pectoral (side) fins that allow them to “walk” along the ocean floor. A small rod and lure extend from the long beak-like snout (called a “rostrum”) that protrudes from their head. They use this structure to help attract and catch prey. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/ Katelyn Depot

Pearly Razorfish, Hemipteronotus novacula

A color image. A fish is laid on its side on a light colored background. The fish is nearly rectangular, but rounded at the head and tail. Its body depth is consistent, narrowing slightly where it attaches to the stubby tail.  Its head has a steep profile, a prominent, button-like eye, and a small mouth close to the base of the head. The body is light colored, with pastel colored, irregular stripes.
This fluorescent beauty is equipped with long, sharp teeth for crunching on prey with hard exteriors, such as crabs and clams. If you look closely at its mouth, you can see several teeth protruding from under the lips. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Megan Barry

Dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus

A color image. A small fish with a big, dark eye lies on its side on a light colored measuring board. The fish is dark on its topside and light colored on its underbelly, with dark stripes down the body from the spine.
This juvenile unfortunately couldn’t escape the net. The adults of this species have a very tall head and a body that tapers, narrowing to the tail. These open-water fish are extremely fast swimmers and voracious predators. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Megan Barry

Filefish and Triggerfish

A color image of two fish lying on their sides on a light-colored background. Both fish are oval and flat, with prominent fins on their spines and on their undersides from about mid-body to the tail. The tails are fan-like. The eyes are about one-third of the way back on the body, the mouths are small and centered on the head. Both fish are silvery with dark colored markings.
This filefish, family Monacanthidae (top) and gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus (bottom) may look similar, but there are some differences. One difference is that triggerfish have three dorsal (upper body) spines, and the second spine fits into the first to lock it into an erect position. The filefish has a single long dorsal spine that doesn’t lock. Both of these fish use their extended dorsal spines for protection and to secure themselves into tight spaces. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Megan Barry
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Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on April 13, 2022