Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned or Bony Fishes)
Order: Batrachoidformes (Only family is below)
Family: Batrachoididae (Toadfishes)

Genus/species: Porichthys notatus

Humming Toadfish 8413703014_a4877b2eaa_o

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS Toadfishes have large flattened heads and tapered bodies and are the only family in the order. The humming toadfish (aka plainfin midshipman) is scaleless with four lateral lines and eyes high on a large head with a large mouth. The toadfish can be up to 30 cm (1 ft) long; the dorsal fin holds a mild poison. The toadfish possesses photophores (light organs), which are arranged on the underside of the head in a U-shape and are used primarily to attract prey.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT Found from Alaska to the Gulf of California. Its habitat ranges from intertidal areas to deeper water over sand and mud bottoms. The toadfish returns to shallow intertidal waters to reproduce and is seasonally common in San Francisco, Suisun, and San Pablo Bays.

Humming Toadfish 2984289639_0f3b1556df_b

DIET IN THE WILD Omnivore: eats worms, crustaceans, mollusks and other fish. Hides in rock crevices among bottom vegetation, or digs dens in bottom sediments to ambush prey. Diet provides the ingredients for fluorescence.

PREDATORS They are prey for seals and sea lions.

REPRODUCTION After building and guarding a nest of rocks, the male entices females by humming his “love song,” a loud sound produced by vibrating a set of sonic muscles on its air bladder 6,000
times a minute for more than an hour at a time. The female chooses her mate, deposits her eggs in the nest, and the male fertilizes and guards them. Males try to attract several females to the same nest.

CONSERVATION Toadfish are not endangered though they are taken by local fishermen as a food fish and by trawlers as a source of fish meal and oil. They are prey for seals and sea lions.

Humming Toadfish 8412481779_4cbf3f513b_b

REMARKS For many years Sausalito residents complained of an annoying noise that kept them awake at night during the summer months. The cause was uncertain, but theories were rampant: underwater surveillance equipment, secret weapons testing, extraterrestrial intrusions were all put forth. Then in the early 1990s the Academy’s Senior Curator and then Director of Steinhart Aquarium, John McCosker, investigated and ultimately reassured irritated residents that the sound had no destructive intent, only a reproductive one.
The remarkable endurance of the toadfish’s sonic muscles are the subject of ongoing research and may lead to clues to fighting human muscle disease as well as general insights into muscle structure and function.

Water planet Senses Cluster Sound WP40


WordPress Shortlink