It’s a scary time of year…
Halloween is this week. I admit I missed my dive club’s annual underwater pumpkin carving dive this weekend. I am very bad at carving pumpkins unless I am allowed to use power tools, which typically don’t work so well at depth.
I did have one genuinely scary moment in the water several years ago. Let’s just say it involved someone donning a great white shark mask and wearing it when I least expected it. Most people do not know that it is possible to jump backwards in water, but it is. I know this for a fact. Um — please do not try that trick at home.
All sorts of things are associated with Halloween — ghosts, candy, spiders, zombies, and batfish. Okay, bats more than batfish, but this is a blog about diving, so I’m sticking with batfish.
There are 13 total species of batfish — 2 of which you might expect to encounter from DivEncounters Alliance boats: the red-lipped batfish and the rosy-lipped batfish. And to be clear, I am not referring to spadefish (family Ephippidae), which some people call batfish. I am talking about fish in the genus Ogcocephalus. Spadefish are really cool, but batfish are so weird it is almost frightening. Well, that might be a stretch — but they do look like they are all dressed up for Halloween.
The rosy-lipped batfish of Cocos
Rosy-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus porrectus) are found near Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica. You might get a chance to see them when diving with the Undersea Hunter Group. This fish has very rosy lips indeed, though they also look a little hairy. This fish went overboard when working on its costume…
The red-lipped batfish of Galapagos
The species you may see at Punta Vicente Roca in the Galapagos Islands is the red-lipped batfish (Ogcocepphalus darwini). The M/V Galapagos Sky visits this site… I took the photo below on a dive there, though I struggled to get a good shot. Notice its scientific name? This fish is also known as the Galapagos batfish.
These animals can swim, but not very well. They walk better than they swim by using modified pectoral and pelvic fins to move around the bottom.
Batfish are carnivorous and reportedly voracious eaters. I think they are sort of ugly too. So if you are a small fish or shrimp, they might actually be very scary animals — and not only on Halloween.
Boo! And Happy Halloween!