Lophius budegassa

Lophius budegassa is a species of anglerfish belonging to the order Lophiiformes, and within this to the Lophiidae family. It is a benthic species, so therefore it lives on the seabed at depths that can reach 1,000 meters, although in the winter months it is often observed in coastal waters. Specimens of this species can be found in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean from Great Britain to Senegal. It is also present throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

The body of Lophius budegassa is very wide in its anterior part and also very compressed dorso-ventrally, while the posterior part of the body is narrower and slightly compressed laterally. Specimens of this species can grow to a maximum size of 100 cm, although it is common to observe specimens of 50-60 cm. Whithin its head, it has a huge mouth on the edge of which, especially on the lower jaw, there are numerous flattened and branched fleshy skin appendages. This species has two dorsal fins. The first is formed by 6 spines isolated from each other and located in the head area. The first three are known as cephalic spines. The first of the cephalic spines (illicium) has a modification at its end that takes the shape of a decoy. This structure is technically known as esca. The second cephalic spine of the dorsal fin is usually dark in color and has small fleshy flaps, while the third cephalic spine is usually the longest of all. Behind the cephalic spines we find 3 spines, called postcephalic spines, which are short, thin and with dark colored bases. The second dorsal fin is formed only by soft rays and has between 9 and 10 rays. The anal fin is formed by 8-9 rays, and the pectoral fins by between 22 and 26 rays.

As for the coloration of Lophius budegassa, the predominant color of the dorsal surface is gray or dark brown. Small darker spots are frequently found distributed throughout the body. One of the features that will allow us to differentiate this species from others of the same genus is the color of the ventral part of the body. It is usually difficult to observe the ventral part of the specimen, since it usually lives on the bottom, but in the case of being able to observe it just when it will start swimming, we will observe that the ventral part of Lophius budegassa is light colored in the most anterior part of the body, and slightly darker in the most rear part.

The feeding of Lophius budegassa is carnivorous, and takes advantage of its cryptic coloring to remain unnoticed on the sandy/muddy bottom of the waters in which it lives, and using the illicium as a fishing rod, it subtly moves this ray to attract unwary fish, that once in its reach, will not see it comming, as with a the very fast movement exerted by the specimen, it absorbs its prey in the blink of an eye.


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