Diving for elephant fish eggs

University of Cambridge biologist Andrew Gillis studies the embryos of elephant fish, distant relatives of sharks with long, trunklike snouts. But how, exactly, do you get an elephant fish embryo? You go diving for them, of course. In this video, Gillis describes how he gets these fish embryos and what he finds inside their eggs.


Gillis explains:

This is a picture of an elephant fish embryo. Elephant fish are cartilaginous fishes, and are distant cousins of sharks, skates and stingrays. The elephant fish lives in deep water off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, but migrates annually into shallow coastal bays to lay their eggs. I study the embryonic development of elephant fish, by collecting their eggs by SCUBA diving at their egg-laying grounds. Normally, an elephant fish embryo will live in their egg and feed off of their yolk supply for 7 to 10 months before hatching out as a completely self-sufficient juvenile. However, these embryos may also be cultured outside of their egg cases, as seen here. This allows us to observe and photograph the development and growth of this unusual fish.


The diameter of the petri dish in the elephant fish picture is 10cm.

Music by Peter Nickalls

This is the fourteenth in a series of videos called Under the Microscope, which io9 is posting in partnership with scientists at University of Cambridge. Under the Microscope is a collection of videos that capture glimpses of the natural and artificial world in stunning close-up. They will be released every Monday and Thursday for the next couple of months, and you can see the whole series here.

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