To follow up on yesterday’s blog about Candy-Stripe Shrimp and their association with Crimson Anemones, here’s another ambassador from my last dive who shatters the notion that these waters do not explode with colour and biodiversity.
This little Longfin Sculpin was at only 1 m depth. I saw him/her immediate when I descended and had such good fortune that the fish did not dart away. It’s usually what they do.
JUST LOOK at the colour, the patterns, the texture . . . and the gossamer fins.
Here’s another individual from a different dive to give you a sense of the variation in colour and patterns. This colouration and banded pattern often helps them camouflage because so much of the life in these waters is brightly coloured.
BUT Longfin Sculpins are among the local fish species that change colour at night. They darken to match their nocturnal surroundings so they have a better chance of . . . seeing another day.
The photo below shows how extreme this colour change is.
This is known as “nocturnal protective colouration” and this adaptation is not unique to species of fishes but is also found in birds, mammals, insects, etc
The males are apparently also darker when courting females and protecting eggs. They are very territorial when egg-guarding.
Further information from Dr. Milton Love’s Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific: “Young settle out of the plankton when around 2.3 to 3 cm long and then live a life where they are mostly solitary (other than to mate and egg guard) and rarely swim more than 0.5 m off the bottom. They use their pectoral fins to crawl around and hang on, even able to kind of “Spider Man” it by hanging on to vertical walls, head oriented downward. They are reportedly highly territorial with domains being from 0.3 to 0.5 metres squared / individual) . . . There have been some observations of the species cleaning the mouths of Lingcod, amid their many and very sharp teeth.”
Below, is one of Jan Kocian’s amazing captures (and cartoons) of a Longfin Sculpins serving as a cleaner fish to a Lingcod.
More often than eating snacks found on Lingcod 🙂 , Longfin Sculpins’ diet is “benthic arthropods” which include crabs, hermit crabs, isopods and shrimp. This is the diet of many sculpin species but one study found that Longfin Sculpins take bites out of their prey where other species like Scalyhead Sculpins swallow them whole.
Demetropoulos CL, Braithwaite LF, Maurer BA, Whiting D. 1990. Foraging and dietary strategies of two sublittoral cottids, Jordania zonope and Artedius harringtoni. J Fish Biol 37:19–32.
T J Buser, D L Finnegan, A P Summers, M A Kolmann, Have Niche, Will Travel. New Means of Linking Diet and Ecomorphology Reveals Niche Conservatism in Freshwater Cottoid Fishes, Integrative Organismal Biology, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2019, obz023.