Part 10 of my documentary, “Mucky Secrets”, about the marine life of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia.
Frogfishes of the family Antennariidae, are a type of anglerfish in the order Lophiiformes. They are rare at most dive destinations but common in the Lembeh Strait.
Frogfishes such as the painted frogfish, Antennarius pictus, are highly camouflaged to resemble sponges or rocks covered in algae. They have an amazing ability to adapt their skin color and texture to blend in with their surroundings, and numerous color variations of the same species can be found.
Rather than blending into the surroundings, the warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus, mimics toxic sea slugs to deter predators.
Although frogfishes can swim, they usually walk around on their pectoral fins which have evolved into arm-like limbs complete with an elbow-like joint.
Frogfishes are generally ambush predators, and have a very clever hunting technique. Their first dorsal spine, the illicium, ends in a fleshy lure known as an esca, which resembles a variety of marine creatures depending on the species. The frogfish waves the illicium like a fishing rod to attract prey. The appearance of the esca is useful in distinguishing between species. If the illicium and esca are removed, the frogfish can grow a replacement.
The illicium is not always deployed, and opportunistic frogfishes will snatch what food they can. They will often just lie in wait, their upturned mouths ready to devour unsuspecting bypassers.
We meet a giant frogfish, Antennarius commerson, taking up a more elevated position on a tube sponge, from which to ambush prey.
A warty frogfish appears nervous as it finds itself in the path of a highly venomous flower urchin, Toxopneustes pileolus, before the urchin finally changed course.
The striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus, is a real star amongst Lembeh critters, and high on most divers’ list of favorites. Many examples in the area bear long skin filaments and are known amongst the dive community as “hairy frogfish”. They are usually found on the open sand amongst algae. The esca resembles a polychaete worm. A black phase of the striated frogfish, without significant skin appendages, is encountered. Its possible that the filaments may be seasonally shed.
Finally we encounter a tiny juvenile painted frogfish, just a few millimeters in length.