Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Males unknown (Ref. 40877). Minimum depth from Ref. 58018. Most recent record was from 29°25'S that was recovered from the stomach of a beached sperm whale (Ref. 85522).
  • Anderson, M.E. and R.W. Leslie 2001 Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 70:30 p. (Ref. 40877)
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References

Bertelsen E, Krefft G. 1988. The ceratioid family Himantolophidae (Pisces, Lophiiformes). Steenstrupia 14(2):9–89.

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Data on Catalog of Fishes

View data on Catalog of Fishes here.

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Type locality

HARBISON station 1047, Coral Sea, 12°31'S, 148°41'E, oblique MT, 0–1650 m, 3 December 1981.

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Type specimen(s)

Holotype of Himantolophus cornifer: MCZ 58858, 90 mm SL.

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Main Reference

Pietsch TW. 2009. Oceanic Anglerfishes: Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea. Berkley: University of California Press. 638 p.

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Description

Distal escal appendage darkly pigmented except for distal tips in specimens 38–90 mm, pigmented only at base in 27-mm juvenile; primary branches of distal escal appendage emerging less than 2.5% SL from base of appendage, distal part of each bifurcating to form 3 or 4 papilliform tips in 27-mm specimen, two digitiform branches in 38-mm specimen, each primary branch bifurcating twice in 90-mm holotype and 39-mm paratype, a third bifurcation of some of ultimate tips present in 52-mm paratype; side branches emerging from near base of distal escal appendage simple, slightly tapering; small dermal spinules present on stem of illicium and base of distal escal appendage of holotype, on illicial stem and base of escal bulb in 52-mm paratype, absent on illicium in smaller paratypes; no large dermal spines in the 27-mm specimen, 3 or 4 on each pectoral-fin lobe of 38–90 mm specimens, 8 on each side of body in 52-mm specimen of 52 mm, about 30 in holotype; papillae of snout and chin well developed; white or faintly pigmented fields of skin present on anterior side of stem of illicium, on papillated part of snout and chin, along dorsal margin of body to base of dorsal fin, and on caudal peduncle behind dorsal and anal fins; a distinct spot of melanophores is present on a slight swelling in front of dorsal fin in 27-mm juvenile; caudal-fin rays white, with scattered melanophores in 27–39 mm specimens, darkly pigmented in two larger specimens; dorsal-fin rays 5; anal-fin rays 4; pectoral-fin rays 16–18.

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Distribution

Range Description

Himantolophus cornifer is found in the tropical waters of the northwestern and central Atlantic, the western Indian Ocean (Natal), the Coral Sea and the central Pacific. This species has also been recorded from the Gulf of Mexico.
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Western Indian Ocean: Natal, South Africa. Also known from the western and central Pacific and northwestern and central Atlantic.
  • Anderson, M.E. and R.W. Leslie 2001 Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 70:30 p. (Ref. 40877)
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Seven of the eight known records of H. cornifer are widely scattered in the tropical parts of the oceans, one from the Central Pacific, the holotype from the Coral Sea, three from the Central Atlantic, and two from the Gulf of Mexico (Bertelsen and Krefft, 1988:67, fig. 43). An eighth specimen was recently reported from off South Africa.

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Atlantic and Pacific.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal soft rays (total): 5; Analsoft rays: 4
  • Pietsch, T.W. 2009 Oceanic anglerfishes. Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea. Oceanic Anglerfishes, i-xii; 1-557pp. (Ref. 86949)
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Metamorphosed females of the H. cornifer-group differ from those of the other species of the genus in lacking a posterior escal appendage and in having the following combination of character states: The distal escal appendage is bifurcated at or very close to its base, each primary branch bearing a single unbranched appendage emerging from the posterior margin (with two exceptions, the paratype of H. macroceratoides and the holotype of H. azurlucens). The total length of the distal escal appendage is 16–214% SL in specimens greater than 30 mm. A more-or-less distinct pair of swellings are present just posterior to the base of the distal escal appendage. No additional appendages are present on the esca or on the stem of the illicium. Small dermal spinules are present on the esca and on the distal escal appendage in specimens greater than about 55 mm. The papillae of the snout and chin are well developed. “White patches” on the body are present or absent. The caudal-fin rays are unpigmented distally, spotted proximally in juveniles less than about 50 mm, but black in larger specimens.

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Size

Max. size

20.8 cm SL (female)
  • Anderson, M.E. and R.W. Leslie 2001 Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 70:30 p. (Ref. 40877)
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Known from eight metamorphosed females at 27–208 mm SL.

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Diagnostic Description

Distinguishing characteristics of metamorphosed female: length of illicium 29-35% SL; each primary branch of distal escal appendage with posterior side branch situated near base; length of distal escal appendage increasing from 9% SL in 2.7 cm specimens to 54% SL in 5.2 cm specimen and 72% SL in 9 cm specimen; posterior side branch of distal escal appendage length increasing from 4.3% SL in 2.7 cm specimens to 30% SL in 5.2-9 cm specimens; distal escal appendage lacking small dermal spinules (Ref. 86949).
  • Pietsch, T.W. 2009 Oceanic anglerfishes. Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea. Oceanic Anglerfishes, i-xii; 1-557pp. (Ref. 86949)
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Metamorphosed females of H. cornifer differ from those of other species of the H. cornifer-group in having distally bifurcated primary branches of the distal escal appendage and in having the following combination of character states: length of illicium 29–35% SL; each primary branch of distal escal appendage with a posterior side branch situated (2.6–11% SL) near base; length of distal escal appendage increasing from 9% SL in 27-mm specimen to 54% SL in 52-mm specimen and 72% SL in 90-mm specimen; length of posterior side-branch of distal escal appendage increasing from 4.3% SL in 27-mm specimen to about 30% SL in 52–90 mm specimens; distal escal appendage without small dermal spinules (present but restricted to base of esca in 90-mm specimen).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The footballfish, Himantolophus cornifer is a meso and bathypelagic species that has a depth range of 0 to 1,900 m. The larvae of species from the Himantolophus genus are epipelagic, usually occurring less than 50 m below the surface, and at metamorphosis they descend to depths of more than 800 m (Bertelsen and Krefft 1988). This species uses a lure (modified dorsal fin spine) as a means by which to attract prey (FAO 2002).

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

bathypelagic; marine; depth range 0 - 1900 m (Ref. 40877)
  • Anderson, M.E. and R.W. Leslie 2001 Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 70:30 p. (Ref. 40877)
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Meso- to bathypelagic. All known specimens were caught in pelagic nets fished open with maximum fishing depths varying from 450–2100 m.

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Depth: 450 - 1900m.
From 450 to 1900 meters.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Collen, B. & Richman, N.

Reviewer/s
Polidoro, B. & Carpenter, K.E.

Contributor/s
De Silva, R., Milligan, H., Lutz, M., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P. & Smith, J. and Livingston, F.

Justification
Himantolophus cornifer has been assessed as Least Concern. This species can be found at bathypelagic depths and so is unlikely to be impacted by any major threats. It is of no commercial interest and is not known to be taken as by-catch. In addition, this species has a broad geographic range.
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Population

Population
There is no population information available for Himantolophus cornifer.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Himantolophus cornifer is of no commercial interest, and due to its small size it is unlikely to be taken as by-catch. There are no known major threats for this species.
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Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for Himantolophus cornifer.
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