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Ugly ‘Assfish’ on Display at Royal British Columbia Museum

Royal B.C. Museum

Feast your eyes on the ugly bony-eared assfish. With a face such as this, we doubt even its own mother would love it!

Some monikers just make sense. In the case of the bony-eared assfish, the less-than-flattering name fits this fish to a T.

A creature of the deep-sea and known to inhabit Pacific Ocean waters, this specimen was caught by scientists 10 years ago off the north end of Vancouver Island in Queen Charlotte Sound. A member of the cusk-eel family, this is the first ‘assfish’ to be discovered off the coast of North America.

"Acanthonus armatus" by R. Mintern - Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876 Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf), 1830-1914. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -
R. Mintern/Wikimedia

Measuring about 30 centimeters long, with an oversized head and less than stellar complexion, the assfish left scientists scratching their heads as to what it actually was. It took a Fisheries and Oceans Canada expert to finally identify it some weeks later.

Gavin Hanke, the Royal B.C. Museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology, summed it up best: “It is an ugly fish. That’s why I like it.”

The assfish is currently being featured in “Finding Fishes” – a free exhibition at the Royal B.C. Museum which will showcase rare items from the museums archives.


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Ugly ‘Assfish’ on Display at Royal British Columbia Museum