A Devil Fish- The Atlantic Wolffish


Source- Wikidata

Anarhichas lupus has many names, such as seawolf, Atlantic catfish, ocean catfish, devil fish, wolf eel, woof or sea cat and the most famous one Atlantic wolffish.

Usually found in North Atlantic ocean Wolffish are known for their unique appearance. With tapered body with large round head and slender tail, it may look like any other fish in the ocean. But it is their teeth which gives them deadly, many who have seen it, proclaim that they look like those of wolf's. They use three sets of crushing teeth on roofs of their mouth to grind down their hard shell prey. Every year their teeth fall out after spawning and are replaced by new ones. An adult wolffish blueish-gray in colour, and the underside of their body is typically lighter than the top side with a series of dark vertical patches running along their length.

Source: Ocean Treasures


Diet and eating habits

Wolffish are voracious predators. They usually feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms (think urchins and sea stars). They serve as keystone species in North Atlantic food webs as they help limit populations of sea urchins and green crabs. Without the wolffish around, urchin and green crab populations could explode, which would have serious negative impacts on the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.


Fact

Despite their deadly look Wolffish are not aggressive towards people and only attack when provoked.


Antifreeze compound

Wolffish are usually restricted to cold water. Preferring to live in depths of 250 to 400 ft where the temperature lies between 30º to 50ºF (-1.2º to 10.2 ºC), their body have adapted a special feature to survive. Their blood have many special compounds to to prevent it from freezing, known as antifreeze components.



Fact

Some wolffish are extremely friendly and are known to play with divers.



Mating

Though wolffish live a solitary life they form pair during mating season. They mate via internal fertilisation, and females spawn relatively large eggs, which both the sexes guard until they hatch. The female incubates the eggs for four to nine months (depending on the water temperature) before laying them in large clusters, which the male then aggressively protects for about four months until they hatch. This level of parental care is rare amongst fishes. The larvae mature slowly and if they survive early transitions period, they can grow upto 5ft and weight upto 40 pounds (18 kg). They usually live till 20 year and don't gain sexual maturity until about age six.


Threats

Atlantic wolffish are good table fare, and throughout its range, it is caught as bycatch, indiscriminately snagged by enormous nets intended for commercially harvested species. To add to the injury, these nets scrape along the seafloor, crushing fragile corals, disturbing rocky outcrops and kelp beds, and re-suspending bottom sediments that damage the fish’s gills and potentially release settled toxic heavy metals. Thus having a negative effect all over the ocean world. Over last several decades scientist have noticed its constant decline in number. NOAA had declared them as a 'species of concern' in 2004. Climate change had also had an adverse effect of Atlantic wolffish, as they seem impotent to adapt towards constant change in temperature.


Ways to help

An important question to be addressed is, "Are the steps taken by the governmental and non-governmental organisation to conserve this species enough?"

Mentioned below are some petitions to pose in your contribution to save Atlantic Wolffish and other similar sea creatures.



Resources

https://oceana.org/marine-life/ocean-fishes/atlantic-wolffish#:~:text=Atlantic%20wolffish%20are%20usually%20solitary,care%20is%20rare%20among%20fishes.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-wolffish

https://www.talkingfish.org/2015/fish-feature/the-atlantic-wolffish-antifreeze-included

https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/profiles-profils/wolffish-loup-at-eng.html

https://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_loupe_atl_wolffish_1013_e.pdf

https://oceana.ca/en/marine-life/ocean-fishes/atlantic-wolffish





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