Exploring the World of Frogfish

Frogfish: Fascinating and Elusive Underwater Predators

Everyone has a favorite marine critter that they like to see underwater. For many of our guests, the various species of frogfish are at the top of the ‘to see’ check list. Frogfish (Family Antennariidae) are a type of anglerfish, which are so named because they have a fleshy growth protruding from their heads, which they use as a lure to draw their prey to their demise.

Camouflage Mastery: The Art of Frogfish Concealment

Despite the vibrant colors of several species of the frogfish, they truly are masters of disguise, and are often overlooked by divers and snorkelers who are not paying 100% attention. Most animal species that utilize camouflage do so as a defense mechanism, however the frogfish use theirs mostly for predation. The lure sticking out of their head seemingly resembles a shrimp, and it can be moved around in ‘shrimpish’ way too. This attracts passing fish that believe they have just happened upon an easy meal, however the hunter quickly becomes the hunted as the frogfish suddenly enlarges its mouth cavity twelve fold, pulling the helpless fish and the surrounding water into its mouth. This attack can be as fast as 6 milliseconds (ninety times faster than the average human blinks), making the slow looking frogfish one of the fastest attackers on the planet. They can also expand their stomachs in order to swallow animals of up to twice the frogfish’s original size. Favorite foods include anything up to twice the individual’s size that gets within range, including other frogfish! Should a fish manage to get the better of the frogfish and eat its lure, it can grow it back in very little time.


Walking and Galloping: Frogfish’s Unique Locomotion

Despite their unbelievably speedy attack, frogfish are not natural swimmers, as they lack the swim bladder that many fish have to keep them neutrally buoyant. Frogfish prefer to walk over the substrate using their pelvic and pectoral fins. If they need a burst of speed they can also ‘gallop’ across the ocean floor, however they can only do this for a short period of time.


Photographing Frogfish: Capturing Camouflaged Beauties

Recently, on one of our favorite muck diving site ‘KampungBaru’ we have discovered a vast amount of baby frogfish, some being smaller than your little finger nail! On our day trips to black sands of Popoh we are usually treated to see many warty frogfish, and we regularly spot many difference species while night diving on some of Bunaken Marine Parks famous wall diving spots. These bright but camouflaged critters are not only incredibly satisfying to spot, but they are perfect subjects for macro photography too.