Brown fish, Red fish, Silver fish: Why are so many fish in the Gulf of Maine brown, silver, and red?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 by Caroline Casals

The Gulf of Maine is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world with over 3,300 species of animals, plants, and algae that call it home!  Despite this enormous diversity, a great many of the fish species that live here, especially those that live in deep water, are mostly found in only three different colors: brown, silver with a dark stripe on top, and red. 


Thorny Skate  Herring trawl  Redfish trawl

 

This might strike you as unusual, especially if you take a trip to your local pet store.  “Why”, you might say, “the fish here come in every color imaginable!”  So why is it that in the Gulf of Maine red, silver and brown reign supreme?

            In order to answer this question, we must first ask ourselves, why are animals different colors?  Why have color at all? 

Albino deer

            One of these things is not like the other

What is one deer not doing, that the others are?  The white deer isn’t camouflaged of course!  Without colors that match the animal’s habitat, it sticks out and cannot hide.

What colors are the animals that live in your backyard, and what does that tell you about where they live?  Do all animals use camoflauge or try to hide? Let us know in the comments below!

There are generally two reasons that animals need to hide: to eat and to not be eaten.  Fish worry about this too, so why are they brown, silver, and red?  Or are they hiding at all?

Click on a link below to find out!

Brown fish    Silver fish    Red fish

Photo credits:

Splash photo: NOAA. All others top to bottom, left to right: NOAA, David Csepp -- NOAA, Christopher Wood -- DMF, Flickr -- user DBarefoot, David Csepp -- NOAA

 

Brown fish, Red fish, Silver fish: Why are so many fish in the Gulf of Maine brown, silver, and red?


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