Swimming through the mangroves estuaries and lagoons of South America is a strange looking fish that can see both above and below the water at the same time. Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to South America to see this bizarre fish, but rather can get an up close look at the largescale foureyes (Anableps anableps), in the new Venezuela mangrove exhibit located in the Tropics Gallery.

Largescale Foureyes at the Vancouver Aquarium

Diagram of the cornea of a four-eyed fish.

Four-eyed fishes essentially have two pupils in each eye, which gives them the ability to see above and below the water at the same time.  A band across this fish’s cornea splits it in two. The lens and cornea are flat above the water (like ours), and curved below, so that fish can see just as well above as below the water.

The largescale foureyes can efficiently search for land and sea based food at the same time. It grazes on red algae growing on mangrove roots underwater and jumps out to grab ants and crabs scuttling on exposed roots above water.

Largescale foureyes can grow up to 30 cm in length and live in the highly productive mangrove forests spanning South America’s Atlantic coast, from Colombia to Brazil. Mangrove estuaries, where the land meets the sea, are productive places where animals from land, sea and sky converge. These estuaries become their homes, nurseries and restaurants.

For the best view of these strange looking fish, try popping your head under the exhibit into the viewing bubble, most easily accessed by our younger visitors. Keep your eyes peeled as the largescale foureyes are often found congregating near the leaves close to the water’s surface.

The Venezuela mangrove exhibit is a brand new display as part of the Aquarium’s recent expansion. Additional details on other new exhibits, spaces and our conservation efforts are found at vanaqua.org/the-big-reveal .

Last Week’s Featured Animal: The Pacific spiny lumpsucker.

Each week throughout the summer a new animal will be featured on the AquaBlog focusing on new and unusual marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium. Stay up to date on the latest fish news by subscribing to our RSS feed or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

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