The Frogfish Yawn is near the top of the list of every macro photographer but why do Frogfish yawn in the first place?
There are a few possible reasons as to why a Frogfish yawn. Unfortunately none of these reasons include “to make the photographer happy!”
The first reason that a Frogfish might yawn is as a warning. Frogfish have this incredible ability to open their mouths and swallow their prey almost twice their size! If they demonstrate this skill to a potential threat then they are hoping this leads to said threat being sufficiently scared into swimming away.
It is unlikely the Frogfish is seeing the diver as a threat but it is definitely possible they have caught a glimpse of their reflection in the camera lens and see this as a rival Frogfish. Frogfish are commonly known to eat other members of their species and as such this would usually serve as a pretty good warning!
Another common reason for the Frogfish to yawn is for comfort. For anyone who has seen them, you will know how happy they are to sit completely still for seemingly hours on end! For anyone who has done something similar in a long journey, you know how good a long stretch is after such a long passive time. It is thought that Frogfish also get stiff and the yawn is their way of stretching out their jaw and mouth!
A third reason for such behaviour has been documented just after eating. Frogfish, as ambush predators, will open their mouths, swallow their prey and close their mouths in a matter of milliseconds. This inevitably means that along with their intended prey, they also swallow a lot of sand and dirt. After this, due to their inability to use a toothpick, the Frogfish will then yawn a few times in a row to dislodge any debris and spit out any residual sand they may have inhaled.
Finally there is another reason and it is unfortunately due to stress. It is suggested that a Frogfish will yawn if it is being harassed or stressed out. Once again, it was meant to intimidate whoever is causing this stress.
It is always important in all aspects of diving to consider the impact you are having. If it seems you are causing the environment stress, then please be considerate and back away.
Experience more dive with Two Fish and see other beautiful underwater life.