They call it the dangler fish. A squat species with a face like a bucket of smashed crabs, the fish is the first newly discovered creature in the Great Lakes in nearly a century. And its presence is already raising concerns amongst many Canadian marine biologists.
“I’m fairly certain the dangler fish isn’t native to this area, and is instead yet another invasive species,” says Dr. Tim Brown, lead researcher at the Canadian Centre For Weird Fish And Folks.
“Close in appearance to the bloviated trumpeter, another smash-faced variety of fish which can often be found on the shores of Lake Michigan telling other fish whatever they want to hear to gain favour, the dangler fish seems to be similarly fond of living in murky waters and concussing its prey with loud, repetitive noises. I think it’s very likely these fish are descended from a similar species of old stock.”
The team of scientists who discovered the fish say they weren’t expecting to discover anything the day they went out for a routine survey in late January of this year.
“It was the day after the storm created by Patrick Brown’s resignation passed through. That kicked up a lot of sediment out on the lake, and it was difficult to see much of anything with our underwater cameras. We decided to send the ROV deeper than we usually do, into a spot just south of Etobicoke that we call The Basement. And suddenly bam, there it was. This weird-looking fish waving its fins and promising to find $6 billion dollars in efficiencies if we brought it up to the surface.”
Once they’d recovered from their laughter, and realized the fish was in fact serious, the team says they began to monitor the dangler’s activity, and were amazed by what they saw.
“Millions of fish came swarming in,” says Jennifer Sorley, a U of T grad student majoring in political science, who has worked with the survey team for the past four years. “It hasn’t been an easy Wynnter, and the particular type of lure that this new dangler fish puts out there, of lower taxes, letting fish tell their fingerlings about hatching season in the privacy of their own holes, and opening up the sale of seaweed, seems to be appealing to a lot of fish. Both those that we would consider apex predators, and, perhaps more surprisingly, fish that are just struggling to make worms meet.”
The team pauses when asked why they keep using the word ‘lure.’ They glance at each other meaningfully before Ms. McSorley continues, looking troubled.
“We watched this fish for some time, and it quickly became clear to us that in the darkness behind this crazy-looking lure that he dangles, there is in fact nothing more than just a big mouth.”
She shudders, and says that the team plans to continue watching the new species closely as “there are indications it is planning on spreading to the other lakes.”