The lanternfishes comprise a large family of pelagic, deep-sea fishes that usually undergo daily vertical migrations, spending the night in shallower water. Members of this family are found in areas worldwide, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. They have small, but elongate, flattened bodies with large heads and mouths. Other characteristics include an adipose fin, a forked caudal fin, and a large anal fin.
The common name "lanternfish" is appropriate because they possess photophores
light organs on their head and body. In fact, identifications
are often aided by the species-specific pattern of these photophores. Why these
fish have light-emitting organs is a mystery, but one theory suggests that the
level of light they emit is low enough to match the light coming from the surface
of the sea and hence conceal the fish's presence from predators below.
Lanternfishes are carnivorous and feed on various small marine invertebrates, such as shrimp, fish eggs, and fish larvae. In turn, they are important prey for other fish, as well as seals and whales.
The spotted lanternfish, Myctophum punctatum, is a North Atlantic species whose distribution in Arctic waters is questionable.
This family is represented by four species in the Canadian Arctic:
arctic telescope (Protomyctophum articum)
glacier lanternfish (Benthosema glaciale)
jewel lanternfish (Lampanyctus crocodilus)
Kroyer's lanternfish (Notoscopelus kroeyeri)