Anglerfish may have a reputation for being among the creepier-looking ocean-dwellers, but it’s not because they grow to be seven feet long, as a viral image on Facebook claims.
The Jan. 12 post shows a young girl reaching toward what appears to be a very large anglerfish mounted on display at a museum. The text above the image reads, "So,... I’ve spent my entire life thinking the Deep Sea Angler Fish was about the size of a Nerf football. How horrifying is it that a typical specimen is SEVEN FEET LONG?"
This post, which had been shared more than 13,000 times as of Jan. 24, was flagged by Facebook as part of efforts to combat false news and information on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
No, anglerfish, known for the fishing pole-like protrusion that dangles over the females’ heads, do not grow to be seven feet long. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, anglerfish can’t grow any longer than 3.3 feet, but a typical anglerfish is even smaller -- less than a foot.
What’s more, the picture referenced in the Facebook post alleging that anglerfish are typically 7 feet is taken from the Australian Museum’s 2012 exhibit titled "Deep Oceans." The anglerfish in the photo is actually a large-scale sculpture model of the fish made of plaster.
When the exhibit opened in June 2012, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on how the exhibit’s team had created an "oversized anglerfish" and listed the many steps in making it:
"Pieces such as the oversized anglerfish, with huge fangs and antenna-like flashing rod to attract prey, begin with cutting and welding a metal frame, then sculpting material over it and, finally, hand painting it," the story says.
While a massive anglerfish model might be a great teaching tool, the claim that these deep sea creatures grow to seven feet has no scientific grounding: Pants on Fire!
Facebook post, Jan.12, 2020
National Geographic, Anglerfish, visited Jan. 24, 2020
NOAA, Ocean Explorer: Kids Guide Anglerfish, visited Jan. 24, 2020
Jen Cork, Deep Oceans-Meet Mr Anglerfish, Feb. 24, 2012
Adam Fulton, My, what big teeth you have - and all crafted by human hand, June 1, 2012
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