Stay away from the light!


The Viperfish

 Remember this little guy from the popular children’s movie, “Finding Nemo”? From a cartoon’s standpoint, the Viperfish may appear to be harmless but a closer look will tell you otherwise.  Notice the fangs.  They happen to be so large that they will not fit inside the fish’s mouth.  To fit, they are curved back close to the fish’s eyes.  The first vertebra, located directly behind the head acts as a shock absorber for the Viperfish when it slams into its victims, moving at incredible speeds.  Most like a deep sea car collision.  The large fangs help the fish to grab and hold onto its pray.


What draws me most to this unusual creature is the small light that extends from the spine.  It’s called a photophore and it’s actually a light-producing organ.  This sneaky animal uses the light to attract its pray.  Like a bug is attracted to light, the Viperfish ropes in and feeds on the lesser-equipped by turning the light on and off. This process is known as bioluminexcence.


(Image courtesy of Danté Fenolio)

)For those of you that are sticklers for specifics: bioluminexcence – (bioluminescence) the emission of visible light either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Photophores can also be found on the bottom side of the Viperfish.  Unlike the more popular extremity, these lights act as a disguise to camouflage the fish from predators.   These may also serve a purpose for communication or to find mates.



1. Other Names – Slogan’s Viperfish, Slogans Fangfish 

2. Max size – 30 cm 

3. Appearance – Green, silver, black, blue 

4. They can survive many days without food (small fish, shrimp)

5. Water depth – 1.600m (daytime), 600m (nighttime) for feeding 

6. Predators – Sharks, dolphins 

7. Lifespan – 30 – 40 years


~ by awhite2 on February 3, 2009.

2 Responses to “Stay away from the light!”

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  2. […] via: Whitman College, The Realm Of Science and Crappy Wildlife […]

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