Thursday, May 09, 2013

Arr, it's a plunderfish!

Nope, a plunderfish is not a pirate. It's part of a genus of oddball fish, and the newly discovered hopbeard plunderfish is one of the oddest as well as having the best name.  They are mottled brown animals with a chunky, sort-of-tadpole shape, barbels protruding from their chins, and a penchant for the deep waters - up to a mile deep - off Antarctica.  Antarctic sea life is still being explored - the Census of Marine Life hauled up an array of new invertebrates, and the surface waters contain huge masses of tiny crustaceans along with the biggest animal ever, the blue whale, which loves to scoop up the crustaceans that appear in such abundance  (in other words, Antarctic blues have a license to krill. You wondered where I was going with that...) The bizarre, transparent no-hemoglobin icefish (96 species of them!) form about 95 percent of the fish biomass in this region. 

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