Welcome to frogfish February at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa. Now is the perfect time for diving enthusiasts to witness the captivating world of frogfish in the pristine waters of Dauin, Philippines. Frogfish February has been given its name for a reason – because frogfish are extremely abundant! As the waters of Dauin come alive with these unique creatures, we invite you to join us on a journey to discover the charm and mystery of frogfish February. You might even see our famous frogfish on the Atmosphere house reef, featured in BBC’s Planet Earth III!
What is a frogfish?
Frogfish belong to the same family as anglerfish (Antennariidae). They are remarkable and visually distinctive marine creatures and are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Around 50 species of frogfish have been found so far, and new species still being discovered. These fascinating fish are renowned for their peculiar appearance, because they resemble a blend of a fish and a frog, hence their name. With a stocky and laterally compressed body, frogfish possess a unique set of pectoral and pelvic fins, which allows them to “walk” on the ocean floor.
How frogfish fool their prey
What truly sets them apart is their exceptional ability to camouflage. Frogfish showcase an impressive range of colours, patterns, and textures. This enables them to seamlessly blend into their surroundings. The skin of a frogfish is often adorned with wart-like projections, adding to their cryptic appearance. Equipped with a voracious appetite, frogfish are ambush predators. They patiently lie in wait for their prey. Their illicium is a modified dorsal spine, that extends above their mouth and acts as a fishing rod. The illicium is adorned with a lure, resembling a tempting morsel. When a curious prey approaches, the frogfish strikes with astonishing speed, securing its meal. This combination of unique characteristics makes the frogfish an intriguing subject for marine enthusiasts, photographers, and divers alike.
Common frogfish species in Dauin
Dauin boasts a variety of frogfish species that divers might encounter during frogfish February. Let’s focus on the four more common species that are sighted regularly: the painted frogfish, giant frogfish, hairy (striated) frogfish and clown (warty) frogfish. The best way to tell these species apart is by looking at their lure.
Painted frogfish (Antennarius pictus): This frogfish is recognisable by its vibrant colours and intricate patterns. Painted frogfish are often found nestled in coral formations, patiently awaiting their prey. Their lure is a small bush with short filaments.
Giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson): true to their name, giant frogfish are the largest species in the Pacific, and they can grow to nearly 40 cm. Their impressive size and textured appearance make them a sought-after sight for underwater photographers. Their lure is a small bush with long filaments.
Hairy (striated) frogfish (Antennarius striatus): with a unique, bristly appearance, hairy frogfish can grow hair-like projections depending on their surroundings. Hairy frogfish are well-camouflaged among algae and soft coral, with their lure resembling a wriggling worm.
Clown (warty) frogfish (Antennarius maculatus): clown frogfish are similar in appearance to the painted frogfish, and can be recognised by their warty skin. Their lure resembles a small shrimp.
Come and see our famous frogfish!
We are extremely proud to have hosted a team of underwater film-makers from the BBC in 2022, to film a yellow clown frogfish on our very own house reef! This footage was featured on the episode “Ocean” on the recent Planet Earth III series. Come and dive with us and who knows, you may even see a celebrity!
While frogfish are always common in Dauin, there is no doubt that in February we see them in much greater numbers. We see lots of juvenile frogfish to begin with, and some are as small as a needlepoint! Over the next few months they will begin to grow, and by the end of June we start seeing a little less of them.
Nearly all of the photos in this blog post were taken by Daniel “Dr. Frogfish” Geary (@drfrogfish), who previously worked as the resident frogfish expert at Atmosphere. Daniel was instrumental in bringing the BBC team to Dauin.
Do you want to know what other amazing marine creatures we see here in Dauin? Visit our critters page to learn more, or get in touch with us to dive into frogfish February at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa!