What was expected to be an average nudibranch sightseeing dive on Mid Reef turned into a particularly exciting encounter with a Marble Mouthed Frogfish (Lophiocharon lithinostomus).

Having visited the sites wreck at 19m we began our slow ascent combing the gently sloping reef searching for critters. Today’s visibility was particularly poor averaging only 2-3m a common occurrence at this location. Richard’s single bang of the tank indicated a special find, at first myself and Sanai both professional divers and experienced guides couldn’t recognize what he was


pointing at but the squeaks of joy soon came through the regulators as the find materialized !

Often with cryptic critters we would notice an eye before seeing the creature itself but its eye’s appeared particularly lifeless and as a result they were barely recognizable, infact at first we thought it was dead.

We both knew at the time this small sized Froggy was special, Richard photographed him and even when the strobes fired the creature did not flinch, continuing to conceal its identity.

Identification of Frogfish is particularly tricky because many species have the ability to change colour to suit their environment and sizes vary within the same family.


The most important
distinguishing factor is their Illicium (Rod) and the lure that sits on the tip. Notice that our individual has a long twig like Illicium with no actual lure on the tip, this provided vital clues to its identity and combined with location, size and habitat we are confident to say its a Marbled Mouthed Frogfish.


North Borneo and neighboring areas of the Philippines, considered very rare


Brackish waters


Mid Reef, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, South China Sea, Sabah, Borneo



Frogfish Size.

Max 6cm


23rd January 2007


Particularly lifeless, very cryptic

Click for more information on Frogfish or use our Marine Biology links to the right.