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Chaunax endeavouri.png
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Lophiiformes
Family: Chaunacidae
Genus: Chaunax
C. endeavouri
Binomial name
Chaunax endeavouri
Whitley, 1929

The coffinfish (Chaunax endeavouri) is a species of sea toad of the family Chaunacidae, which consists of 17 species. It is found in salty temperate waters of southwestern Pacific, off east coast of Australia.[1] The coffinfish was first discovered around February 1997 in Sicily, Italy by the skipper of the Libra, which was a trawler who was harbored in Mazara at the time.[2] It can be also found in depths of 164–984.3 ft (50.0–300.0 m). Deep sea crab fishermen off the east coast of Florida pull them up from depth ranging from 5,000-8,000 feet about 54–68 miles off the coast.[3] They have a globose and spiny body that grows to a maximum length of 22.0 cm (8.7 in) (SL male/unsexed)[4] and a black mouth lining and an illicium on the snout that can be lowered into a groove.[5]


Endemic to the temperate waters of the southwestern Pacific, off east coast of Australia.[1]


Benthic, muddy bottom of the ocean, Australian continental shelf and upper slope in the deep ocean, usually 200m-2500m.[6]

The Indian Ocean also has two different types of coffinfish residing in its deep waters: Chaunax nebulosus and Chaunax africanus. They differ in color due to different markings on dorsal parts. C. nebolosus has green spots and black markings, while C. africanus has long narrow brown bars.[7]

Physical description[edit]

Rounded body and ventrally compressed with loose skin; tapering to a small rounded tail. Head very large and globose with especially prominent open lateral-line canals; eyes dorsolateral; the mouth is large, oblique to nearly vertical, with relatively small, sharp slender teeth. Lure is short, located just behind snout within a depression that it rests in; the esca is mop-like, a dense cluster of numerous, short, thread-like cirri. The skin is densely covered with small to minute spine-like scales that are somewhat similar both in shape and feel to placoid scales of sharks. Single open lateral-line canal on body joining conspicuous canals on head and extending posteriorly to proximal portion of caudal fin.[8] Anal-fin rays 6 or 7 (usually 7); Soft dorsal fin with 10 to 12 rays; pectoral fins narrow and paddle-like, with 10 to 15 soft rays; greatest distance between anterolateral angles of sphenotic bones is 15 to 23% of the standard length.[8] 10 to 13 Neuromasts in a supraorbital row, 2 to 4 neuromasts in the upper pre-opercular row, 3 to 5 neuromasts in the lower pre-opercular row, 10 to 13 in pectoral row, 29 to 42 in lateral line. The color of C. endeavouri is generally pink, reddish, orange, or rose-colored; some with pale diffuse spots of yellow or olive green.[6]

Reproduction and development[edit]

C. endeavouri lays eggs in buoyant mucous ribbon-like “rafts”.[9] These buoyant rafts are an excellent device for broadcasting a large number of small eggs over great geographic distances providing for development in relatively productive surface waters.[10]

After hatching, the larvae swim to the surface and feed on plankton. As they mature, they return to the depths below. The morphology of the larval stage seems to reflect an adaptation to a long larval life. The larvae are translucent, round and found in the pelagic zone, unlike the benthic, dorsoventrally compressed adults.[10]


C. endeavouri has inflatable gills that it uses to fill its body with water, acting as a defense mechanism much like the pufferfish. When the gill chambers are completely filled with water, there is no inhalation or exhalation for 26 to 245 seconds. This is beneficial for energy preservation. The body of the C. endeavouri will increase in volume by 30% with full gill chambers and will protect it against predators.[11]

Food Habits[edit]

Adults are ambush predators that use small lures above their snouts to attract small, invertebrate crustaceans to their mouths.[12] Little is known about the diet of larval and juvenile C. endeavouri, but they likely eat plankton during their pelagic stage.[9] They also like to eat shrimps and other fish. They are also a source of food for many other bug sea creatures. (Ho, Two new species of the coffinfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from the Indian Ocean)


A very large number of lateral line canals allow the C. endeavouri to detect movement in their surroundings as they often live in low-visibility areas. This is especially beneficial as an ambush predator.[9]


There is evidence suggesting that various kinds of anglerfish – including large species – are consumed by larger predatory fishes such as sharks.[9]

Ecosystem roles[edit]

The C. endeavouri is a deep ocean, benthic predator of small crustaceans, like Acanthomysis microps, a deep sea shrimp.[13] And predated by deep sea piscivores like cow sharks.[9]

Economic importance[edit]

Chaunax have been bycatch for deep sea trawlers.[12]


C. endeavouri was categorized as “High Risk” from oceanic trawlers in an Ecological Risk Assessment by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority due to their high susceptibility to trawlers (Being benthic) and relatively low productivity. However, they are non-threatened due to their wide area of distribution.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ho, H.-C.; McGrouther, M. (2015). "A new anglerfish from eastern Australia and New Caledonia (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae: Chaunacops), with new data and submersible observation of Chaunacops melanostomus". Journal of Fish Biology. 86 (3): 940–951. doi:10.1111/jfb.12607. ISSN 1095-8649. PMID 25683184.
  3. ^ Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton and G.R. Allen, 2006. Fishes. In Beasley, O.L. and A. Wells (eds.) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia Part 1, pp. xxiv 1-670; Part 2, pp. xxi 671-1472; Part 3, pp. xxi 1473-2178.
  4. ^ May, J.L. and J.G.H. Maxwell, 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.
  5. ^ "This odd deep-sea fish can hold its breath for four minutes". Animals. 27 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b Ho, Hsuan-Ching, et al. “A Review of the Anglerfish Genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from New Zealand and Adjacent Waters, with Descriptions of Four New Species.” Zootaxa, vol. 3620, no. 1, 2013, pp. 89–111., doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3620.1.4
  7. ^ Ho, Hsuan-Ching., Last, Peter R., “Two new species of the coffinfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from the Indian Ocean”, Zootaxa, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Caruso, J.H. (1989) Systematics and distribution of Atlantic chaunacid anglerfishes (Pisces: Lophiiformes). Copeia, 1989 (1), 153–165.
  9. ^ a b c d e Caruso, John H. and Theodore W. Pietsch. 2007. Chaunacidae. Coffinfishes, seatoads, gapers. Version 02 October 2007. in The Tree of Life Web Project,
  10. ^ a b Lasker, R. (ed.) (1984).Marine Fish Larvae. Morphology, Ecology, and Relation to Fisheries. Seattle:Washington Sea Grant Program.
  11. ^ Long, Nicholas P.; Farina, Stacy C. (2019-05-10). "Enormous gill chambers of deep‐sea coffinfishes (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) support unique ventilatory specialisations such as breath holding and extreme inflation". Journal of Fish Biology. 95 (2): 502–509. doi:10.1111/jfb.14003. ISSN 0022-1112. PMID 31073988.
  12. ^ a b Quigley, D. T. G., et al. “First Record of the Toadfish Chaunax Suttkusi (Caruso, 1989) (Pisces: Lophiiformes, Chaunacidae) from Irish Waters, Together with a Review of North Eastern Atlantic Records of C. Suttkusi and C. Pictus (Lowe, 1846).” The Irish Naturalists' Journal, vol. 25, no. 6, 1996, pp. 221–224.,
  13. ^ Biju Abraham & Saramma U. Panampunnayil (2009). "Mysids (Crustacea) from the shallow waters off Maharashtra and south Gujarat, India, with description of a new species". Marine Biology Research. 5 (4): 345–362. doi:10.1080/17451000802454890
  14. ^ Wayte, S., Dowdney, J., Williams, A., Bulman, C., Sporcic, M., Fuller, M., Smith, A. (2007) Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing: Report for the otter trawl sub-fishery of the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.