Pacific Spookfish, <i>Rhinochimaera pacifica</i> Click to enlarge image
A juvenile Pacific Spookfish trawled during the NORFANZ expedition at a depth between the surface and 1750m in the Tasman Sea, 19 May 2003. The fish is registered in the Ichthyology Collection of the National Museum of New Zealand (NMNZ P.39534) Image: NORFANZ Founding Parties
© NORFANZ Founding Parties

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    pacifica
    Genus
    Rhinochimaera
    Family
    Rhinochimaeridae
    Order
    Chimaeriformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Pacific Spookfish grows to over 1.2 m in length (without the caudal filament).

Introduction

The Pacific Spookfish is a very strange-looking, deepsea fish that has has a long, flexible snout.


What do Pacific Spookfish look like?

Identification

The Pacific Spookfish has a long, flexible snout, small eyes and smooth tooth plates. It has two dorsal fins, the first is short-based and tall with a strong spine. The second is long-based and low. The species has a long caudal fin, the upper lobe of which has a row of fleshy tubercles.

It is brown above and grey-brown below. It has a white snout and black teeth.

Spookfish are members of the Chimaeriformes order and are considered to have evolved from an ancient shark group. They are from the family Rhinochimaeridae and are found worldwide. There are two genera are four species found in Australian waters. All Spookfish have an elongate body, pointed snout and a single gill opening.


Pacific Spookfish, Rhinochimaera pacifica
A juvenile Pacific Spookfish trawled during the NORFANZ expedition at a depth between the surface and 1750m in the Tasman Sea, 19 May 2003. The fish is registered in the Ichthyology Collection of the National Museum of New Zealand (NMNZ P.39534) Image: NORFANZ Founding parties
© NORFANZ Founding Parties

Where do Pacific Spookfish live?

Habitat

It is known from depths of 760m to 1290m.

Distribution

The species is found in deepwater plateaus and troughs from 191m to 1290m but mostly below 700m in Australia found off New South Wales, around southern Australia including Tasmania, to off North West Cape, Western Australia. Known from the South Tasman Rise, Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Rise. Also known to occur off New Zealand, Japan and Peru.



How do Pacific Spookfish mate?

Reproduction

A poorly understood species, thought to be oviparous (lays eggs that hatch) but nothing known of its reproductive biology.


References

  1. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  2. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia.Second edition. CSIRO. Pp. 644