A year in the waiting! During the summer of 2011, DROP researchers almost caught a sea toad off of Curaçao. However, when the sub crew tried to collect the sea toad with the sub's suction tube, the fish inflated itself with water becoming too large for the tube. The skilled crew maneuvered the robotic arm and sub to gently place the sea toad in an open collection crate attached to the submersible. This container works well for things that don't move much, but when the sub made a descent, the fish floated out of the container and swam off. All the researchers came back with was a photo of the fish swimming away. That loss and a year's wait make this week's find all the sweeter!
The sea toad in this photo (Chaunax spp.) was collected at approximately 253 meters (830 ft.). Like all sea toads, it has modified pectoral fins it uses to walk along the bottom. Sea toads are anglerfish, as are frogfishes and monkfishes. Anglerfish have lures on the top of their heads: frilly in some species, long and arching in others, and bioluminescent in many deep-sea species. This sea toad's lure resembles a short white mop. There are two known species of sea toads in the Caribbean. Morphological comparison and DNA analysis of this speciman will determine if it is one of these known species.