An Oceans Abcdarium created by the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany

Deep Sea Attraction

Joana King

“Du bist ein kleiner Tiefseefisch, viel zu kalt und glitschig für mich.”

“You‘re a little fish of the deep sea, much too cold and slippery for me.”

Thus began German punk song Tiefseefisch, sung by Bärchen und die Milchbubis in the 1980s. But are these words doing justice to the creatures of the deep sea? In the vast depths of the oceans, encountering a mate is difficult. Therefore female anglerfishes use their bioluminescence not only to attract their prey, but also their partners. Some members of the deep sea anglerfish suborder Ceratioidei seem to take the idea of forming an attachment very literally: during mating, the tiny males permanently attach themselves to the female’s body, conjoining skin and blood circulation. Whether we find the idea romantic or creepy, they spend the rest of their lives together.This series was created less to encourage thinking about the creatures themselves, and more to focus on their luminosity. It was created through the use of watercolors, marbling, cyanotype, and digital processing.

Sources: Swann, Jeremy et al., “The immunogenetics of sexual parasitism”, Science, vol. 369, Issue 6511, (2020): 1608-1615.

Pietsch, Theodore, “Dimorphism, parasitism, and sex revisited: Modes of reproduction among deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes)”, Ichthyological Research, vol. 52 (2005): 207-236.