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Anglerfish

New Discoveries

Anglerfish - Pacific footballfish

General Info

- Free with Museum Admission
Free for Members
Located on the 2nd Floor

For a limited time, you can see on display a rare, deep-sea ocean discovery from our collections. This species of anglerfish, known as a Pacific footballfish, spends the majority of its life under thousands of feet of cold, dark water. Follow the amazing journey of this recent discovery, from how beachgoers found it washed up on shore in May 2021 at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, CA, to how it became part of our collections. This specimen gives our scientists a valuable opportunity to learn more about this species. Over time we hope to find answers like: Why did this specimen wash up on shore so far from its home? How did it make this incredibly long journey in pristine condition?

Anglerfish Slideshow 1

Photo by Todd Clardy

Living, glowing bacteria called photobacterium light up an anglerfish's lure, or esca, to attract unwitting fish in the deep, dark sea.

Anglerfish Slideshow 2

Photo by Sally Marquez

Its intimidating teeth are pointed inward to help make sure prey can't escape.

Anglerfish slideshow 3

Photo by Sally Marquez

It doesn't just look unappetizing. The bumps on its body are the bases of spines, making the fish difficult to stomach for any would-be predators.

1 of 1

Living, glowing bacteria called photobacterium light up an anglerfish's lure, or esca, to attract unwitting fish in the deep, dark sea.

Photo by Todd Clardy

Its intimidating teeth are pointed inward to help make sure prey can't escape.

Photo by Sally Marquez

It doesn't just look unappetizing. The bumps on its body are the bases of spines, making the fish difficult to stomach for any would-be predators.

Photo by Sally Marquez

In this temporary exhibit, you WIll:

  • Come face-to-face with the deep-sea fish and see it’s sharp teeth.
  • Learn about its built-in rod (illicium) and lure (esca), which is filled with bioluminescent bacteria that help attract prey in the light-starved depths of the ocean.
  • Touch a model replicating the fish’s spiky exterior.
  • See a print by artist Dwight Hwang, and learn about the traditional Japanese art form, gyotaku (fish rubbing, or printing), as well as the artist’s personal experience working with the rare fish.
Anglerfish Pacific footballfish on sand
"It's one of only about 30 adult female specimens of this species, and having one washed up in this condition is extraordinary"

NHM’s Assistant Curator of Ichthyology Dr. William Ludt

Anglerfish Q&A with Dr. William Ludt

How rare is this specimen? Why are anglerfish so mysterious? How does this species produce bioluminescent light?  Ludt answers these questions and much more!

 

Creating Art Prints of the Anglerfish with Dwight Hwang

Get an inside look at the traditional Japanese art form of gyotaku (fish rubbing, or printing), and watch artist Dwight Hwang working with this rare specimen.