To see photographs of the Elephant Fish (Callorhinchus
milii) click here.
Elephant Fish (Callorhinchus milii) Chimaera.
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© 2014 Kelvin Aitken.
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Taxonomic name: Callorhinchus
Other Common Names: Callorhinchus
The Elephant Fish (Callorhinchus milii) Chimaera must be the most spectacular
of all the cartilaginous fish. When viewed from below, the skin is silvery
white like aluminium foil but when viewed from above it has a disruptive
pattern of large brown blotches and bands. It has two dorsal fins
the rear one being by far the smaller and a long, elegant tapering
tail that is used mainly as a rudder.
Its most distinctive feature is a plough-shaped nose that is used to search
for food on the seabed. The end of the flexible snout is covered in sensory
pores that detect movement and weak electrical currents. Behind and close
to the snout is a small mouth with crushing plates. The eyes are large
and set high on the head, while the face of this chimaera is traced with
a map of sensory mucus-filled canals. The single gill opening is immediately
in front of each large sculptured pectoral fin. It is the pectoral fins
that supply the animals primary means of locomotion.
Annual Migrations and Defence
Males and females migrate from 200 m depths offshore to enter shallow
coastal bays in spring and summer to breed. Here, females drop their golden-coloured
egg cases which hatch eight months later.
Besides being well camouflaged, Elephant Fish defend themselves with a
long serrated spine that is just in front of their first large dorsal
Elephant Fish often have green eyes, like the other chimaera species and
deep-water sharks. When they are caught and hauled to the surface they
have yet to react to the surface light and are still a startling metallic