“Mysterious ‘alien’ fish with a wide mouth full of… ‘sulking'”. 88

Neoclinus blanchardi, commonly known as the ‘alien’ fish in the San Francisco Bay, presents a fascinating spectacle with its unique features. Thriving in coastal areas at depths of 5 to 70 meters, these endemic fish prefer sandy environments and hard seabeds for their habitat. Sporting a distinctive appearance, these smooth-skinned fish have fins that extend from their head to the tail.

 

One of the most remarkable characteristics of Neoclinus blanchardi is their impressive mouth – wide, flared, and adorned with large, sulky-looking lips. Despite their alien-like appearance, these fish weigh only around 0.5 to 1.5 kilograms, with males generally being larger and having wider mouths than females. They often seek refuge in rock holes, bottles, and snail shells, poking out their bulging eyes like frog eyes to observe their surroundings.

 

While their appearance is intriguing, Neoclinus blanchardi is known for its aggressive nature. With large mouths and sharp teeth, they can attack anything that comes into contact with them, including humans. As a result, approaching their hiding places is not a task for the faint-hearted.

 

In terms of diet, these fish primarily target crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps. Their breeding season, occurring from January to the end of August, involves females laying approximately 3,000 eggs in rock cavities. Interestingly, the responsibility of caring for and guarding the larvae until they hatch into young fish falls on the fathers.

 

The fascinating life cycle, unique appearance, and aggressive nature of Neoclinus blanchardi make them a subject of interest for marine enthusiasts and researchers alike. The alien fish’s ability to adapt to its environment and play a crucial role in the ecosystem highlights the wonders of marine life in the San Francisco Bay.

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