Fish and skips! Moment diver encounters bizarre hairy creatures WALKING across the seabed
- Susan Gardner, 64, filmed the bizarre creatures in Lake Worth Lagoon, Florida
- Fish she spotted are called hairy frogfish, one of the ‘most fascinating’ breeds
- Species takes its name from its coat of irregularly-arranged spines
This is the jaw-dropping moment a diver spots two hairy fish strolling along the seabed.
Susan Gardner, 64, filmed the bizarre creatures during an early-morning dive in Lake Worth Lagoon near Palm Beach, Florida.
Her footage shows a pair of unusual fish, covered in hair-like tentacles, apparently walking on two legs across the sand.
What she’d encountered were hairy frogfish, a species that’s been called ‘one of the strangest and most fascinating fish in the ocean’.
It takes its name from its coat of irregularly-arranged spines, which resemble hair and let the predator blend in with coral and seaweed, helping it to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Their ‘legs’ are actually modified pectoral fins which allow them to walk along the ocean floor looking for prey.
It’s pure luck that Mrs Gardner, a retired pharmacist, noticed them at all.
‘I spotted movement in my peripheral vision and went to investigate,’ she said.
‘I got close to them and realised that these striated frogfish were tailing into the shallows. We are lucky to see them as they breed here every year.’
Footage shows a group of brown fish with clumps of ‘hair’ that appear to be strolling across the floor of the ocean
Susan Gardner, 64, filmed the bizarre creatures during an early-morning dive in Lake Worth Lagoon near Palm Beach, Florida
She continued: ‘Getting closer, I noticed the leader was very pregnant.
‘These fish are bottom dwellers. They are poor swimmers and usually move by walking on modified fins that resemble legs.
‘The pregnant one had a large belly that was so big it prevented her rear legs from touching the sand, so she was moving her front legs and wagging her tail to move forward.
‘They also veered from side to side with the water motion. It helps to make them seem like they are part of the bottom algae.
‘The growth that looks like hair also helps disguise them. They are ambush predators so they sit still pretending to be part of the bottom.’
As well as lying in wait for their victims, the fish have a lure-like appendage which they can dangle in front of their mouth to attract potential prey.
And if another fish manages to eat the lure, the frogfish can just regenerate a new one.
‘They strike amazingly fast,’ said Mrs Gardner.
‘And they can swallow fish bigger than themselves. It’s impressive!’
What she’d encountered were hairy frogfish, a species that’s been called ‘one of the strangest and most fascinating fish in the ocean’
It’s also rare to see them, says Susan, so even after more than 5,000 recorded dives she feels very lucky to encounter a pair.
She said: ‘I love frogfish. They are hard to find and that makes me appreciate them more when I spot one.’
According to ScubaDiving.com, frogfish are ‘some of the strangest and most fascinating fish in the ocean’ as well as ‘some of the hardest to find’.
When the frogfish attacks, the website says, its mouth can expand to 12 times its normal size at such fast speed that it creates a vortex, sucking the prey into its mouth.
They also have the chameleon-like ability to change their colours to match their surroundings, however it takes them weeks to transform themselves this way.