Join Komandoo on a search for Frogfish at night

17 Aug 2017

Around Komandoo lately, there have been some sightings of the very elusive Frogfish! These grumpy looking little fish are a part of the ‘Anglerfish’ family, which is named due to the modified first dorsal fin that looks like a tiny fishing rod, with a lure attached to the tip. The ‘rod’ is called the Illicium and the bait is called the Esca and can look like a worm, shrimp, or other delicious morsel for a fish. These are used for deceiving prey into swimming right in front of the mouth of the Frogfish – which just-so-happens to have the fastest strike speed in the animal kingdom!

To add to their predatory edge, these fish are also the masters of camouflage – making it near impossible to be spotted by prey (and divers!). Unlike cuttlefish and octopi, these critters can take weeks to change their skin colour and texture to be just right to blend in with their surroundings. Luckily, for the divers, this usually means they stay around the same spot to ensure their camouflage stays relevant.

Those who get to see one moving, will notice Frogfish don’t swim like all the other fish around. They walk slowly on their frog-like front ‘arms’ – or hop along using the jet-propulsion from their gills. The reason for the strange mode of movement is that they lack a swim bladder – which functions like a divers BCD; so, they spend most of their time completely still, blending in with their surroundings, and waiting for prey to be interested in their bait – which makes them an interesting challenge for divers to find, but also fantastic for photographers!

To make it even more difficult, it would seem that the little guys around here (usually about 5cm-10cm) prefer to come out at night time! Prodivers Instructor Marek managed to find a pitch black frogfish nestled between some rubble on a night dive, right here on the Komandoo House Reef, subsequent day dives seemed to turn up nothing… but a couple weeks later on another night dive, he found another one! There has been occasional sightings of this dark green frogfish feeding off the small creatures on the reef, and Prodivers Instructor Steffi can confirm several sightings of a white and red warty Frogfish known as a clown frogfish.

Variation of colours and textures on the reef could very well mean there are more that haven’t been spotted yet, even if there is no luck in the Frogfish department other regular sightings include: cuttlefish, nudibranchs, flatworms, tons of saron shrimps, Donald duck shrimps and lots of feather stars.

So, bring your camera, your best eyesight, a whole lot of patience, and play ‘Where’s Froggie’ with us on our house reef night dives!