The Dragon of the Deep: Lancetfish

Straight out of a horror film, the lancetfish is a predatory fish that is widely distributed throughout the world’s oceans. Its latin name is Alepisaurus, meaning “scaleless lizard”. Lancetfish are often caught by tuna fishermen, and are considered a nuisance because they hold no value at market. This beast can grow up to 6 feet long and has a torpedo shaped body. It has been found as deep as 1600 meters. They have a very high dorsal fin, similar to a sailfish or a marlin, and a gigantic mouth designed to engulf prey.

The name “lancetfish” comes from their extremely long and sharp teeth, similar to a lancet. Lancetfish feed mainly on other fish, squid, and crustaceans. They have been known to prey on other lancetfish, and are sometimes referred to as the “cannibal fish”. Their muscles have a high water content and are not good for human consumption. Lancetfish flesh has been described as “gelatinous”. This also means that they are probably not very quick swimmers and probably ambush most of their prey. Juvenile lancetfish are hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both male and female reproductive parts.

The US Navy built a submarine named the Lancetfish during World War II, but it sunk accidentally in Boston without ever having seen combat.

Cover image from @drewherma44