MARINE HATCHETFISH - ©groonk.net
- Found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
- They are small deep-sea fishes which have evolved a peculiar body shape and like their relatives have bioluminescent photophores.
- The latter allow them to use counterillumination to escape predators that lurk in the depths: by matching the light intensity with the light penetrating the water from above
- The fish does not appear darker if seen from below.
- They typically occur at a few hundred meters below the surface, but their entire depth range spans from 50 to 1,500 meters deep.
- The body is deep and laterally extremely compressed, somewhat resembling a hatchet (with the thorax being the “blade” and the caudal peduncle being the “handle”).
- The genus Polyipnus is rounded, the other two – in particular Sternoptyx – decidedly angular if seen from the side. Their pelvis is rotated to a vertical position. The mouth is located at the tip of the snout and directed almost straight downwards.
- Their scales are silvery, delicate and easily abraded. In some species, such as the Highlight Hatchetfish (Sternoptyx pseudobscura), large sections of the body at the base of the anal fin and/or caudal fin are transparent.
- Their large, sometimes tube-shaped eyes can collect the faintest of light and focus well on objects both close and far.
- They are directed somewhat upwards, most conspicuously in the genus Argyropelecus.
- This allows to discern the silhouettes of prey moving overhead against the slightly brighter upper waters.
Fact Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_hatchetfish