This unusual, pockmarked deepwater catfish is Bathyclarias foveolatus. The specimen (USNM 265800) was collected 21 July 1980 off Nkhata Bay, Malawi by M.K. Oliver, K. McKaye, and T. Kocher and was alive when I photographed it. So far as I can determine, this is the only museum specimen collected since the species was described from three type specimens by Peter B.N. Jackson (1955).
The small, laterally placed eyes that bulge out from the outline
of the head, a key characteristic for distinguishing
Bathyclarias from Clarias,
can be seen in the close-up of the head at right. B. foveolatus (called
"Chimwamapumba" locally) is piscivorous according to
Jackson (1961), who remarks that
"it is probably sluggish in habits, skulking among the rocks and mud at
great depths; it is invariably caught in the bottom few meshes of
deep-set gill nets. Of no economic importance as many Africans refuse
to eat it, fearing that smallpox might be contracted from its
pock-marked skin. Grows to 70 cm. or more."
Both photos © 1999 by M. K. Oliver.
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|Last Update: 6 November 2013
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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