Bony-eared Assfish

collected in 2006
RBCM 021-00130-001
Scientific Name:
Acanthonus armatus

This Bony-eared Assfish, Acanthonus armatus, is the first of its kind in British Columbia waters, and the first record along the Pacific coast of North America. The species was described in 1878, and is known from depths of 1,500 to 4,400 m below all tropical and subtropical oceans.

We caught this unique cusk-eel on October 11, 2006, during a deep-water survey in Queen Charlotte Sound, off the north end of Vancouver Island. During this haul, the trawl net ranged as deep as 1,700 m, and when retrieved, it contained 26 other species of fishes. Obviously the deep sea lacks major barriers, allowing this fish to disperse into the North Pacific Ocean. Delicate deep-water specimens commonly get damaged in trawl nets. We were lucky to get this thin-skinned fish in near-perfect shape given the potential for damage from the larger fishes that shared the net.

This specimen, like many other “firsts” highlights the need for survey sampling along our coast to understand biodiversity and our connection to global ecology. These first specimens are valued additions to keep the Royal BC Museum collection current with changes to our fauna.

This object selected by Dr. Gavin Hanke. View Profile »