…that marine fishes are so cool is the fact that they have a dispersive larval stage. Unbeknownst to most people is the fact that more than 99% of marine fish species have a dispersive larval stage. The larvae of marine fishes often look very different from the adults that we are accustomed to looking at, with some bordering on the very bizarre. The duration of this larval stage varies from species to species. Clownfishes have a pelagic larval stage that is often less than 5 days, while some puffer fish species spend up to a year as a pelagic larva. The morphological variation is equally fascinating. Leptocephalus larvae, which are the larvae of true eels, are able to absorb nutrients directly through their skin. Other larvae are equally bizarre. Just to introduce you to amazing world of marine fish larvae, here is one particularly amazing example (see photo).
This photo is of a Liopropoma mowbrayi, which is a cave bass that looks quite different as an adult. The extension of its first dorsal spine bears an uncanny resemblance to a siphonophore. Whether this feature serves to aid in protection, boyancy or both remains unclear. What is undeniable, however, is that the natural world remains a mysteriously amazing place…..