Monkfish

Latin Name: Lophius americanus

The monkfish is found in the family Lophiidae along with 25 other species of goosefishes. These voracious bottom dwellers have particularly large mouths compared to their body size and have been known to take geese floating off the surface of the water. Highly camouflaged, these fish also have a modified dorsal fin called an illicium that acts as a lure to attract unwary fish. The tip of the illicium has a fleshy tab on the end called an esca that, to a hungry fish, looks like a bit of food and when the fish comes in for a closer look it is snapped up by a monkfish ambush. Monkfish typically occupy colder waters of the Western Atlantic but on occasion can be found as far south as Northeastern Florida. These fish are commonly found in the commercial fisheries as they have a very desirable fillet similar in smell, texture and taste to that of lobster, hence the name “poor man’s lobster”.