Gatasan | @natmuseumbohol via Photo: Joanna Bijl | Magic Oceans Dive Resort, Anda @

Gatasan (Hairy Frogfish)

Gatasan is a bizarre marine creature of the Bohol Sea.

Frogfishes are members of the Family Antennariidae. They are found in shallow tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Indo-Pacific Oceans including the Philippines where they occur in rocky coral reefs, sandy bottoms, seagrass beds, and weedy estuaries.

A Frogfish can grow to a maximum length of 25cm with females usually larger than the males. They feed on small fish, shrimps and crabs, and other frogfish species. They sit on the bottom and wait motionlessly for their prey with their illicium or ‘rod’ topped with its esca, a worm-like appendage dangling in front of its head to lure their prey. An unsuspecting organism that dares to eat the esca will easily be swallowed by a frogfish. They strike quickly before the prey knows it.

Males change color during courtship while performing a dance ritual. The male swims beside and behind the female while nudging her with his mouth and stays near her cloaca to incite spawning. Prior to spawning, the female begins to fill up eggs which makes her buoyant with tails up and followed around closely by the male as he continues to nudge the female’s abdomen and moves quickly to the surface for spawning. They may spawn several times in weeks with thousands of eggs released bound in a ribbon-like sheath of gelatinous mucus known as an epipelagic egg raft. It then sinks to the bottom as the embryos hatched.

This Hairy Frogfish or Antennarius striatus is listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Least Concern (LC). This species has been observed at Nasingin Island in Getafe and in Candabong, Anda, Bohol.

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