Vampire Fish discovered in the Amazon
Tina Butler, mongabay.com
May 19, 2005
The candiru is notorious in the Amazon for its unpleasant parasitic practices. This diminutive catfish burrows into body orifices, securing itself to its host with spines along its sides and drinking its blood. These fish detect their prey by water streams coming from other fishes' gills, or in the case of humans, urine streams. The new fish species is transparent and only 25 millimeters long. Scientists believe it is likely to feed off of larger fish by swimming into their gill slits. It is too early to determine whether or not the fish targets hosts as large as humans.
The species was discovered in the murky depths of the bottom of the Amazon River during the filming of a BBC series entitled "Amazon Abyss," along with three other fish species. For the program, an international team of divers and scientists set out to record life at the deepest reaches of the river. The Amazon River is incredibly vast--wider and deeper in some places than the English Channel. The area where the 'vampire fish' was discovered comprises a series of great scars in the river bed that are more the 300 feet deep in places. Scientists have only begun to explore these mysterious areas but are already uncovering numerous oddities.