Nfld. & Labrador

Here are 3 cool and creepy fish you likely haven't seen before

Um, these guys are definitely not Nemo.

They have jagged teeth, neon bodies and blood-sucking tendencies

Karen Dwyer, left, and Christina Bourne, both biologists, show off several obscure fish. (Jane Adey/CBC)

Most people are familiar with the ever-popular capelin or cod, but get up close and personal with three fish with creepy names and faces only a mother (fish?) could love.

Jane Adey, host of The Broadcast, got a peek in a Department of Fisheries and Oceans lab in St. John's.

Northern sea devil

The deep sea angler is also known (more nefariously) as the northern sea devil.

Their squat bodies actually come in handy for their living conditions — this one was found 1,400 metres below the surface, according to Karen Dwyer, a fishery biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's.

"They're adapted for life on the bottom by being very gelatinous. They have very gelatinous bodies and they also have these barbels that you mentioned. So it's like this lure this fishing lure that they have hanging over their head and they use it to attract prey and attract mates, actually," she explained.

Barbels house the taste buds of fish, and what they use to search for food in dark, murky water, explained Dwyer.

The mating habits are quite unique.

"[The male] comes up to her. It fuses onto her belly and becomes part of her. So he takes all her nutrients and he provides sperm for her when she's ready to spawn ... he's almost a parasite," said Dwyer. 

Other fish may see the light, but the northern sea devil sees food. 

"There's bacteria in there that produce this light and it glows and [the fish] waves this little glowing thing around and prey comes after it. And then it just opens its mouth and sucks in prey," said Dwyer.


This daggertooth was a good find, said Christina Bourne, who is also a biologist with DFO. 

The daggertooth fish looks a spear upon quick glance. (Jane Adey/CBC)

"We don't see these. And so I guess he was in amongst the capelin, eating away. So the creepy fish aren't always deep, deep sea. We probably caught him about 200 metres down," she said.

Its long, slim body gives the daggertooth an advantage.

Creepy-looking fish aren't always at the very bottom of the sea. This daggertooth was caught about 200 metres below the surface. (Jane Adey/CBC)

"This one is very fast. Obviously, the body shape shows you that he darts in and round and captures prey ...  and those teeth are to grab small prey and keep them," said Bourne. 

Lantern fish

Lantern fish are one of the most common fish in the deep sea of the ocean, said Bourne.

And while they may not be much to look at above the water, below it, they stand out.

These fish actually glow under the water. (Jane Adey/CBC)

"This is a jewelled lantern fish. So when he's underwater his whole body is covered in these photophores and — just like the angler fish — that little knob at the end of his fishing rod, his whole body is covered in them so he would be lit up neon blue or yellow and they think that's for communication," said Bourne.

"They form schools so, I guess, just a big school of glowing fish swim [around] but it has to be beautiful."

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