I’ve always been a big fan of the odd stuff in the ocean -- in this case the longnose batfish. Sure, angelfish and butterfly fish are pretty to look at, but with them literally everywhere underwater it’s not exactly exciting to see dozens, maybe even hundreds, on each and every dive. Enjoyable? Of course. Something that makes you turn on the GoPro? Only on your first couple dives perhaps.
But the Longnose Batfish, now that’s a different story. These guys are rarely seen in the best of locations, and are always the oddity when you do see them. And thus out with the GoPro to get some footage. Such was the case earlier last week when as I was descending to start the dive I spot the batfish chilling in the sand just off the reef. A great start to what was a really enjoyable dive.
Quite the interesting looking fellow, eh?
The Longnose Batfish…
…also called the Walking batfish, is referred to ichthyologists by it’s Latin name of Ogcocephalus corniger. A total of six species of batfish can be located in Atlantic waters. Most species are found exclusively well below recreational scuba depths, and even the Longnose Batfish is found to depths of 3,000 feet (1,000 meters), so it is a treat anytime we get to see them in the shallow sunlight waters of Cozumel. The name “Longnose” should be readily apparent of how it came about, but one neat fact about that nose is it is used in the hunt for prey. The fish possess the ability to wiggle their nose with the hopes of it attracting prey close enough to swallow. Due to the great depths these fish traditionally occur, very little is known about them. However, we know they feed on fish, crustaceans, and polychaete worms and are known to release a fluid that acts as a chemical lure to attract prey. Additionally, they use their modified fins to literally walk -- hence the “walking batfish” name -- as you can see in our video below.
Traditionally we wouldn’t see this fish near coral reefs, so if you wanted to see one we would normally have to head into the sand and grass flats to search for it. This one was spotted at Playa las Casitas at approximately 35-40 feet of water. I suspect it can be found in the vicinity regularly.
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