Dragonfish can sense slight changes in water flow

Written by on August 24, 2016 in Fish, Marine Life

Given their habitat, deep sea fish are a challenge to study. They live under extreme pressure in complete darkness and frigid cold, making them difficult to observe in their natural environment. Removing them from their habitat isn’t a good solution either because it is difficult to bring specimens from the deep sea to the surface without damaging them.

Barbeled dragonfish. Photo credit: Bridget Altman.

Barbeled dragonfish. Photo credit: Bridget Altman.

Ashley Marranzino, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, recently learned more about the sensory systems of one group of deep sea fishes: dragonfish.

“I was interested in seeing how fishes in the deep sea are adapted to the lower light conditions of their environment,” Marranzino said in a news release. “If there is so little light, you would expect that the fish aren’t using much of their vision to guide their behaviors. Instead, maybe their lateral line system has evolved to become more sensitive.”

Marranzino found that dragonfish use a “mechanosensory lateral line system that detects water flows and low frequency vibrations in the water.” This allows them to sense slight movements in water, helping them avoid predators and find prey without light.

“But while I’ve shown that their lateral line system is really important, we still don’t know much about the behaviors they exhibit using this system,” Marranzino said. More research is needed to understand how they live and behave.

“Some of them make a huge nightly migration to shallow waters, where they are eaten by tunas and other predatory fishes that are important to fisheries, so it’s important that we understand their biology and their ecological role in the world’s oceans,” she said.

Read the full story here: URI grad student makes discovery about sensory system of deep-sea fish.

Barbeled dragonfish. Photo credit: Bridget Altman.

Barbeled dragonfish. Photo credit: Bridget Altman.

Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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