Tuesday March 2, 2010

What’s more surprising than an albino ratfish? How about the fact that ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei) are the most abundant fish in Washington’s Puget Sound! As recently as 2005 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated their biomass at 170 million pounds, 5 times greater than herring, the next most abundant fish.
Although the albino sailfish recently captured in Cabo was a good example of a fish defying the odds, this one may be better. Whereas the typical ratfish is brown/black with spots to help it blend into the bottom, this fish was completely white and was even described with a “crystalline layer” that gave it a silvery sheen. In other words, it was constantly asking to be eaten.
Ironically, its albinism did ultimately lead to its demise, only by curious researcher rather than hungry predator.
More details and pictures at the UW website
Photo source: uwnews.org

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