Wednesday 6 January 2016

Decorated Warbonnet

Image: David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL
Chirolophis decoratus
To battle!

Grab your warbonnet! Don your grapple-gown! Your battle-bodice! Your combat-corset! Peril-petticoat! Havoc-heels! And don't forget the embroidery of enmity and the sequins of strife.

Image: Eva Funderburgh
Unless you're a fish.

Then you can just wear the hat.

Image: Robertson, D Ross
Well, at least one fish heeded the call. Actually more than one, since the genus Chirolophis contains 8 species of Warbonnet.

Only one of them got decorated, though. And not with anything so mundane as a medal, either.

Image: Robertson, D Ross
Decorated Warbonnets are blessed with an astonishing mass of cirri, or mini-tentacles, that sprout out of their noggin and branch off like miniature trees. It turns their bonce into a delightful forest scene! Or a nasty, fungal condition. It's in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Decorated Warbonnets look and live a lot blennies. That means they're quite long, quite thin, but too... "block-headed" to look like an eel. No offence. They're not blennies, though. They belong to the same family as the unfortunate Monkeyface Prickleback. You can see it in their... "luxurious" lips. No offence.

Decorated Warbonnets reach up to 40 cm (16 in) long, not that you'll necessary see them at all. They live in cool, North Pacific waters, from Russia to Alaska and down to California, where they spend much of their time hiding in rocky crevices and nibbling on small shrimp.

The decorative headgear seems to serve as nifty camouflage, making the Warbonnet's head look like a pile of sea anemones and hydroids. It's not the usual point of decoration but hey ho.

Image: kathleenreed
It certainly wasn't the point of the Native American warbonnet, which seems to be what the fish are named after. For some reason. I can't imagine that each tentacle was awarded to them for an act of bravery.

I don't know... When I hear the word 'bonnet' I can't help but think of petticoats. I guess I need to add some more connections. War and fish.