Japan aquarium shows mysterious clear-blood fish

Apr 05, 2013
An ocellated ice fish swims in a fish tank at Tokyo Sea Life Park on Friday. The Ocellated Ice Fish lives in the freezing waters of the Antarctic Ocean, where it manages to keep its body doing all the things that other fish do, but with blood that is absolutely clear, researchers have told AFP

The deep oceans have yielded many mysteries that have puzzled people for centuries, from the giant squid to huge jellyfish that look like UFOs. To that list add a fish with totally transparent blood.

The Ocellated Ice Fish lives in the freezing waters of the , where it manages to keep its body doing all the things that other fish do, but with blood that is absolutely clear, researchers told AFP on Friday.

The reason, say experts at Tokyo Sea Life Park, is that the Ocellated Ice Fish has no , making it unique among vertebrates the world over.

Haemoglobin is the protein found in every other animal with bones. It is what makes blood red and is the agent that carries oxygen around the body.

The fish, which has no scales, is a prize catch for the aquarium, the only place on the planet that has the curious specimen in captivity.

Satoshi Tada, an education specialist at the centre, said very little is known about the fish, which was brought back to Japan by krill fishermen.

An ocellated ice fish swims in a fish tank at Tokyo Sea Life Park on Friday. The Ocellated Ice Fish has no haemoglobin, making it unique among vertebrates the world over.

"Luckily, we have a male and a female, and they spawned in January," he told AFP, adding that having more examples to study might help scientists unlock some of the fish's secrets.

Researchers believe the fish can live without haemoglobin because it has a large heart and uses to circulate oxygen throughout its body.

Its skin is also thought to be able to absorb oxygen from the rich waters of the Antarctic, where it is found at depths of up to a kilometre (3,300 feet).

But the that left this creature with clear blood running through its veins is a mystery.

"Why is it the fish lost haemoglobin? More studies are needed on the question," Tada said.

Explore further: A molecular compass for bird navigation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Eleven-foot 'giant herring' found off Sweden

May 12, 2010

A "giant herring" measuring 3.5 metres (11.4 feet) has been discovered off Sweden's western coast -- the first such fish found in the Scandinavian country in more than 130 years, a maritime museum said Tuesday.

Robot-fish interact with live fish

Nov 15, 2012

Scientists have developed robot-fish that can interact intelligently with live zebrafish according to a study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface today.

Recommended for you

A molecular compass for bird navigation

5 hours ago

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

100,000 bird samples online

7 hours ago

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in Oslo has a bird collection of international size. It is now available online.

New genetic technologies offer hope for white rhino

9 hours ago

With support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the ...

Cats put sight over smell in finding food

Feb 26, 2015

Cats may prefer to use their eyes rather than follow their nose when it comes to finding the location of food, according to new research by leading animal behaviourists.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.