In all these years diving in the waters of Roatan I only had three chances to see a Frog Fish, none of them I’ve found for merely coincidence, with an exception of the Sargassumfish, the coordinates have helped me reach them.
The first Frog Fish i saw, was at the dive site called Black Rock and it was a black in March 2010, the second in Flowesr’s Bay Wall, yellow and the orange one was last year in West End Wall; as the north wind brings the Sargassum to the beach I found one too.
Frogfish have a stocky appearance, atypical of fish. Ranging from 2.5–38 cm (1-15 inches) long, their plump, high-backed, non-streamlined body is scaleless and bare, often covered with bumpy, bifurcated spinules. They are often brightly colored, white, yellow, red, green, or black or spotted in several colors in order to blend in with their coral surroundings. In 2005, a species was discovered, the striated frogfish, that mimics a sea urchin while the sargassumfish is colored to blend in with the surrounding sargassum. Some resemble stones or coral while others imitate sponges, or sea squirts with dark splotches instead of holes.
Most animals use camouflage to conceal themselves from predators; frogfish exploit it in seducing prey. Frogfish generally do not move very much, preferring to lie on the sea floor and wait for prey to approach. An unsuspecting fish might nestle into what it thinks is a sheltering rock, or try to eat what might be algae. Then WHAM! The frogfish juts out its jaws and guzzles it up—in 6 milliseconds. A frogfish’s mouth cavity can expand to 12 times its size, allowing it to ingest prey that are 25 percent longer.
In open water, frogfish can swim with strokes of the tail fin. They also have a kind of jet propulsion that is often used by younger frogfish. It is achieved by rhythmically forcing their breath-water out through their gill openings, which lie behind their pelvic fins.
Frogfish have built-in fishing rods to assist in this aggressive feeding behavior. A fleshy “antenna” that dangles from its head ends in a lure, which can mimic the shape and movement of a small animal, like a squirming shrimp or wriggling worm. This lure will grow back if another fish bites it off. Frogfish also have legs, sort of. Lacking a swim bladder, a frogfish’s modified pectoral fins help it walk, even gallop, across the seafloor.
It’s difficult to distinguish males from females, except during spawning. The female swells up with eggs. Once spawning occurs, a ribbon-like veil of eggs drifts for days until sinking to the bottom. Parenting usually ends there, when the enigmatic frogfish returns to its lair and lies in wait for its next meal to arrive.