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The deep bodies of lookdowns are as flat as pancakes.  Looking head-on at one of them, the body becomes a thin silver sliver and nearly disappears. They are relatively small fish, rarely exceeding a foot in length.  Perhaps their unusual body shape helps them escape from larger predators.  If a predator approached a group of lookdowns from the side, the flashy silvery discs would appear to disappear as the lookdowns turn to flee because of the extremely thin profiles seen from behind by the predator.  

These are Mexican lookdowns (Selene brevoortii), found in tropical coastal waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean from the southern tip of Baja California to Ecuador.  A closely related species (Selene vomer) occurs in the Atlantic Ocean along the coasts of North and South America.  Selene is the name of the moon goddess of ancient Greek mythology.  Indeed, these silvery, disc-like fish are sometimes commonly called “moonfish.”  They typically swim with the tail tilted slightly upward, giving the appearance of the fish looking toward the bottom, hence the other common name “lookdown.” Lookdowns live in relatively shallow coastal waters, generally near the bottom and prey on very small fish, small squids, shrimps, small crabs, and polychaete worms.

These fish were printed on a sheet of dark blue paper paper marbled with swirls of silver and gold.  Although I usually use water-based inks in my work, in this case I used oil-based aluminum paint to capture a highly reflective impression of the fish.

Size:  28 x 20 inches (2005; on display and for sale at Shogun Japanese Cuisine, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Other originals of pairs of lookdowns on the same paper are available, as is an original of the above composition on solid blue paper.)

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