Walking in the deep | Global Ideas | DW | 26.06.2017
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Global Ideas

Walking in the deep

Why swim if you can walk, why hunt if you can wait? The red-lipped batfish is a bit unusual in many ways, not least its appearance. But hey, if it works...

Puffy red lips and a grim expression on its face. That's how the aptly-named red-lipped batfish struts around on the seabed surrounding the Galapagos Islands. That's right, it's a fish and it struts. The greyish creature spends much of its time walking rather than swimming. It does so using its pectoral fins, which have evolved into somewhat awkward, leg-like appendages.

It eats smaller fish and crustaceans but as you can imagine, it's not particularly quick on its "feet," so rather than chase its prey, it tends to lie in wait until something tasty passes by. To improve its odds of catching anything, the animal wiggles a white fluffy-looking protrusion located above its mouth. Its tasty (to other fish and crustaceans at least) appearance, seduces prey into the pouty lips of our piscivorous pal.

So what are your chances of running into one of these creatures? Well, by anglerfish standards, pretty good but still not great. Even if you're privileged enough to get to take a dip in the ocean around the Galapagos Islands, these ocean walkers are rare and tend to stay at the bottom, which usually means anywhere between 3 and 80 meters below the surface. And even though they may look a bit scary, they are only about the size of an American football - a deflated one.