The goosefish is an enormous pancake of a bottom dweller that lives in local waters. She snuggles into the sand and lies in wait for a hapless fish to get fooled by her modified fin lure (or a shrimp snack served up by an aquarist). Then she swallows them in one woosh [watch it in slow motion on our YouTube channel]. While her enormous maw and ambush eating habits are impressive, it’s her egg veil that gets the most oohs and aahs.

goosefish with lure

Goosefish, also known as monkfish, lay egg veils that are just one egg thick, but stretch out to be 60 feet long, 3 feet wide with 1 to 2 million eggs. Our goosefish is no exception. But since there is no male in the exhibit, her eggs are not fertile and the egg veil quickly disintegrates.

goosefish egg veil floating in distance
A dark mass of eggs floating near Duxbury Beach

Recently a local fisherman Edward Mortell was fishing off Duxbury and reeled in a dark shroud that was floating in the water. Turns out it was an egg veil dotted with fertilized eggs — a fresh perspective on goosefish egg veils that we know so well from our exhibit! Those black speckles in the gelatinous mass were eggs with developing fish inside them.

goosefish egg veil floating
goosefish egg veil floating
closeup of goosefish larvae
These little guys have a long way to grow

Thank you to Edward Mortell for sharing these images with us on Facebook. It gave us a great opportunity to appreciate goosefish egg veils in a whole new way.

Fleeting Egg Veils at the Aquarium

There is no egg veil in the exhibit right now — our goosefish last laid one in June. Over the years she’s produced many of these masterpieces. One year she even laid three! The eggs float around the exhibit for a couple days so visitors can watch the veil billow and flow around the tank. But since the eggs are not fertile, the mass quickly starts to disintegrate. Click through these images to see the fleeting and beautiful goosefish egg veils.

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