Blind Cave Fish of Madagascar

Madagascar's Ankarana Special Reserve is home to an endemic species of blind fish called the Ankarana Cavefish or in Latin, Glossogobius ankaranensis.  Glossogobius is a genus of Gobi which are native to marine, brackish and freshwaters throughout the Tropics and Sub Tropics of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Only one species of Glossogobius is blind and that's the form found in the caves of Ankarana.

It's not that the Ankarana Cavefish has poor eyesight - it does not have any functioning eyes at all, with no ocular tissue found in the sockets where eyes would in 'normal' fish exist. To make up for its lack of ability to see by light, it relies on an ability to 'feel' the water around it using neuromasts - lumps covered in fine hairs which are incredibly sensitive to small movements in the water. It uses these to hunt down its prey, which consists of shrimps, insects and the waste products of animals suspended in the water.

The waters at Ankarana are quite productive for these fish, so although they are only found here, their CITES status is of Least Concern. Two rivers, the Andranotsisiloha and the Besaboba, flow into the Ankarana mountain range, providing essential nutrients and organisms needed to maintain Ankarana Cavefish's habitat.

Whilst the Glossogobius ankaranensis is in good health, it was not until 1986 when it was discovered, hidden deep in Ankarana's cave systems. Once spotted, it was clearly of interest, with its blood and internal organs visible through its scales. The fish's lack of pigment gives it a pinkish colour, whilst its eye sockets appear sunken since there are no eyes to fill them.

To see the Ankarana Cavefish, contact us for details about our Tsingy, Amber Mountain, Wildlife & Indian Ocean safaris.


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