The Coral Lab is Mill Springs Academy's PreUpper School Marine Biology program (7-8 grades) that is centered on the study of coral reef ecosystems and oceanic awareness. Recently, the lab lost several of its long term aquatic inhabitants due to the power outages caused by Hurricane Irma. Thanks to the tremendous support from our families, we were able to raise enough money to replace our lost livestock and are now the caretakers of several intriguing new specimens. The first animal that the Coral Lab would like to introduce (and share some facts about) is quite a rarity- the Longlure Frogfish, or Antennarius multiocellatus. In the wild, this bizarre reef dweller mimics surrounding sponges by varying its background hue to match that of the dominant sponge in the area. It also has multiple ocellii (eye-like markings) that look like the openings in a sponge. The frogfish uses its stalked pectoral fins and its pelvic fins to slowly "walk" across the bottom (a very strange anatomical characteristic for a reef fish). Frogfishes have also been observed inflating themselves by filling their stomachs with air or water.
The name "longlure" refers to the elongated illicium which acts as a fishing lure (very similar to deep water anglerfish). The illicium is the first spine of the dorsal fin, highly modified into a long rod with a lure at the end. In most species, the lure looks like potential prey, such as a worm, crustacean, or even a fish. The frogfish will lie and wait for a fish to swim by and will then wiggle the lure around to attract the prey. It is capable of swallowing a fish that is larger in size than itself! Like a recreational human angler, the frogfish will move to a different location if no fish are biting. The frogfish is reported to be the fastest animal alive and can move and suck in prey at speeds as quickly as 0.006 seconds, so only high-speed film can catch the action!
Coral Lab students will be keeping a close eye on their new tank inhabitant, who is currently residing in our coral frag system and who will eventually be transferred to a 20-gallon display tank in the coming weeks. If you would like to learn more about this unusual and fascinating animal, please contact Michael Griffeth (MG) to schedule a tour (678-893-7862) of the Coral Lab and don't forget, "The Ocean's Awesome!"