Monday/ a freaky little fish, for World Oceans Day

The deeper you go, the stranger things get.
– Dr. Bruce Robison, marine biologist, of voyages into the Monterey Canyon and beyond (Monterey Canyon is a sub-marine canyon in Monterey Bay, California).

One of the 13 species of the bristlemouth, a bony little fish that is about as big as a human finger.

It’s World Oceans Day.

Scientists agree that there are still hundreds of thousands of undiscovered species of animals and plants in the oceans.

More and more has been discovered about the bristlemouth : easy in a way, since they are everywhere in the oceans — the world’s most prevalent vertebrate, by far. There may be a quadrillion – 1,000,000,000,000,000 (1015) – of them, all told. They live in the middle depths of the ocean where there is little light. They have bioluminescent spots that glow in the dark, and can open their mouths extraordinarily wide, baring needle-like fangs.

Many of them have another trick up their sleeve: start life as a male, and later, switch to become a female. Scientists call it protandrous — that is, a male-first hermaphrodite — a phenomenon also seen in certain worms, limpets and butterflies.

A mouth full of needles: a bristlemouth, which is the most plentiful vertebrate in the world. [Photo Credit: Rudie Kuiter/]

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