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Albino Ratfish Is 1 In 7 Million

A RatfishA ghostly, mutant ratfish caught off Whidbey Island in Washington state is the only completely albino fish ever seen by both the curator of the University of Washington's 7.2 million-specimen fish collection and a fish and wildlife biologist with more than 20 years of sampling fish in Puget Sound.

"Ratfish usually hang out in places with soft, muddy bottoms," says Jon Reum, the aquatic and fishery sciences doctoral student who found the albino ratfish during a UW research project. "The typical ratfish in Puget Sound is brown or black with a smattering of white spots so it blends in with the sediments."

In the marine environment, few albinos live long enough to pass on the mutant genes that block production of skin pigment.

This fish was almost pure white with a crystalline layer near the surface of its skin that gave it a silvery sheen. The foot-long female may have been 2 or 3 years old, Reum and Pietsch estimate, making her a teenager in the ratfish world.

After the albino ratfish was caught the researchers attempted to keep her alive in a bucket of water but, in spite of boards placed over the top, she managed to flip out of the bucket onto the deck during the night. She is now preserved and part of the UW Fish Collection.

Source: Eurek Alert
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