Gymnodraco acuticeps Boulenger, 1902, Cape Adare, North Victoria Land, Antarctica.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Grows to 13.5 in (34 cm) in length. It has an elongated, scaleless body (length/depth ratio, 9:0) with a long, pointed head. The coloring is yellowish to olive-brown, with darker blotches on the sides; it is pale on the ventral surface. The lower jaw extends well beyond the upper and bears two prominent fangs that are slanted backwards to prevent the escape of prey. In common with all members of the dragonfish
, it lacks the first spinous dorsal fin. This species produces abundant mucus when it is freshly caught.
South Shetland, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the eastern Antarctic continental shelf from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea.
Found mainly in shallow inshore waters, to a depth of 162 ft (50 m), although it has been caught as deep as 1,800 ft (550 m). It commonly resides in crevices or under rock ledges or anchor ice.
This is an aggressive fish that rapidly consumes other aquarium inhabitants.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
The diet varies with location. Near the Antarctic Peninsula, the dragon fish feeds on krill; in McMurdo Sound, fish, amphipods, fish eggs, and polychaetes are taken.
Spawning occurs in September; 0.12-in (3-mm) eggs are attached to a stone as a flattened patch of about a thousand and guarded. In the wild, adults tend egg masses until the larvae hatch and disperse. Development takes about a year. Freeswimming larvae, about 0.6 in (15 mm) long, hatch out in early summer and remain in the zooplankton for about six months.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
This species is proving to be a valuable research subject. Beginning in 2001 clusters of developing embryos near McMurdo Station have been harvested for investigation into the ontogeny of AFGPs.
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