The Eelpout and the Night Team – Bill Jones

What is an eelpout you ask? Well, let me tell you. Eelpouts (Zoaricdae) make up a family of bony fish that have one large fin that stretches from the middle of its back all the way around its body to where its belly button might be. Despite their appearance, they are not actually true eels because they lack leptocephalus larvae. However, through convergent evolution, they share many of the same characteristics as true eels – including elongate bodies and the fusion of the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. In the last two days we have caught four species of eelpouts. Two species (midwater eelpout and bigfin eelpout) were taken in our IKMT, while, interestingly, two were collected from box cores (pallid eelpout and blackbelly eelpout). Going into the trip, I did not expect we’d be collecting fish with the box core, but on a scientific cruise, anything can happen! Eelpouts are among the many strange and interesting organisms that we have collected on this trip.

Bigfin Eelpout

midwater eelpout

Other animals collected by the IKMT

The ever popular catshark (it eats cats).

Heteropod (pelagic snail)


Hatchet fish


Tonight will hopefully be another great night for the Night Team. After a rough first few days, the wicked winch of the starboard side has left (hopefully for good) and the Night Team has all of a sudden become a well-oiled strong-hearted sampling machine. Last evening we carried out 2 IKMTs, 2 MOCNESS tows, and 2 ZOOPS deployments. Productivity was high and spirits were even higher – from the singing angle reader quartet, who sang while reading the angle of the IKMT tow line over the water (their CD will be released when we get back on shore) to squid jigger dancers (even better than Riverdance), I expect tonight to be no less entertaining.

I leave you with another perk of being on the night watch.

Waking up to a sunset (sep 28th)

A sunrise before bed

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12 Responses to The Eelpout and the Night Team – Bill Jones

  1. Danielle Abbott says:

    I thought those pictures were very interesting, i expecially like the ones of the sun set. Also i think the siphonophore looks really cool.

  2. Ryan Juda says:

    You said that the creatures you collected are part eel. How is something like an octoupus part eel?

  3. Frankie Deatsch says:

    Very nice photos, do you think that the siphonophore
    could be a microscopic version of a octopus? And if it is, does this mean that different species coppy off of different specis, or is it the same species just on a microscopic level?

  4. Ellie Johns says:

    What are some of the other organisms you collected? Are any of them mutations between two sea creatures?

  5. calechoes says:

    @Danielle – Thanks!
    @Ryan – Of course and octopus is not part eel! I did not mean that all the creatures in my pictures above are part eel. In fact, none of them are eels. The eelpouts simply LOOK like they are eels. However, they are not true eels because the larval stage of an eel is very unique (see my wiki link) and and different from that of most other bony fish (such as the eelpout).
    @Frankie – The siphonophore is actually a type of Cnidarian (i.e, jelly fish) and not an octopus. Your second question makes me think of the term “convergent evolution” ( see my example about the eelpouts.
    @Ellie – check out our picasa photo album – there are lots of pictures of other organisms we have collected. No, we have not found any mutations between two organism (thankfully) – however if you look up information on the siphonophore, you will discover that it is actually a colonial organism – a fusion of many different individual organisms with specialized roles that work together to form one larger unit!!!!

  6. calechoes says:

    @frankie – one more thing. The siphonophore is actually larger than the octopus in the picture!

  7. Amber Martin says:

    Hey, this blog caught my eye today, the pictures were so cool, and I love how you guys share your discovered information, pictures, and videos with us students. I really liked the pictures of all the different organisms in the post. Does the catshark really eat cats? :/ I wouldn’t be able to believe this because… cats can’t get down to feed them?? Also is the hatchet fish kind of like a piranha? It sure looks like it. And finally I love love love the pictures of the sunrise/set. They are so amazing!
    Ok, hope you all have a safe trip home and had tons of fun learning these cool things! bye

  8. Tiffany Resler says:

    Those sunrises & sunsets are so pretty! I bet that was cool to see. I would be creeped out collecting all of those types of fish! I’m not a big fan of fish. If you could find out something new about them, I guess it’d be worth it.

  9. Michaela Charlton (Midpark High School) says:

    The pictures everyone puts up are always vivid and very eye catching. Finally i see animals(fish)! So did you guys just happen to catch these animals while you were conducting experiments and collecting research or were you actually looking for them?

  10. Claudia Sladick says:

    All of these picture are very interesting. I like the one of the siphonophore, what species of fish is it?

  11. Trinh Vo says:

    Wow, those pictures look really interesting! I’ve never heard of an eelpout before. Then again, there is so much that I’ve yet to learn! The cruise sounds really fun and looks like a great experience to gain knowledge. This just shows that there is so much out there for us to discover. The world is such a vast, complicated place, we probably will never learn all there is to know.

  12. Kayleigh Berendt says:

    I love the photos. How big was that octopus?

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