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Espada Preta Defined

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Aphanopus carbo, the Latin name for the fish, was so designated as pertaining to its salient features. Aphanopus is composed from Greek and signifies “without legs/members that are apparent”; and such it is, the fish does not have any fins or members protruding from its sheath of a body. Carbo, refers to the Latin word for Coal; it is reference to the totally black exterior of the fish. Only the very large eyes might release a shade of blue if seen from an angle.
A quite typically ugly fish with a fearsome name to suit it too...

The common name, both in English and in Portuguese, is very appropriate - both because it looks like a sheath, or a scabbard, and as a reference to its ferociously predatory nature – made obvious by the spectacularly effective and terrifyingly carnivorous teeth and jaws. The fish can extend to approximately two metres in length once fully grown. It can also weigh in at about two kilograms at that length.

The fish ovulate from October to early December. It is common to enjoy Espada eggs as a delicacy in many culinary establishments in Madeira during the season. Each female can carry approximately 300,000 individual eggs – actually a very appropriate amount for the abysmal conditions it suffers. In the deep batipelagic no plants grow implying that all fish there need be necessarily carnivorous. To propagate the continuation of its species and to avoid the complete devouring of its eggs once released it needs to make as many of them as possible so that, albeit most are lost, some of its prodigy will make it to maturity. Incredible as it may sound, becoming a full-grown Espada is relative in chance to winning a small national lottery….










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