Classification, Diversity And Biology Of Lanternfishes
Lanternfishes, as their name implies, are characterised by a series of light organs or photophores on the sides of the body.
A Footballfish eating a Multitspotted Lanternfish
Photographer: Australian Museum © Australian Museum
Research Fellow: Dr John Paxton
Lanternfishes of the family Myctophidae live primarily in the twilight zone of the world ocean, from 200 to 1000 m in the mesopelagic zone of the water column. Lanternfishes, as their name implies, are characterised by a series of light organs or photophores on the sides of the body. Although the largest species is 35 cm long, the vast majority of the 250+ species are less than 15 cm maximum size, with some reaching no more than 3 cm.
Most species undertake a vertical migration from their daytime depths of 400-1000 m to the food-rich waters in the upper 200 m. These fishes are found in all oceans, and are eaten by many other fishes, squids, sea birds and marine mammals.
Current research projects on lanternfishes include production with Alan Williams of CSIRO, Hobart an illustrated key to the 100+ species of lanternfishes found in Australian waters including those of the Antarctic. The paper will include a figure for each species and brief notes on distribution.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology