Scanning Electron Micrographs of Fish Ears

A selection of images that we have taken over the years from ears of a variety of fish species.

Otolithic membrane (OM) showing ciliary bundles (cb) within the holes. The OM separates the otolith from the sensory epithlium and, as far as we can tell., actually holds the two structures in contact with one another. In essence, the OM is likely to limit the relative motion of the otolith and sensory epithelium. The exact structure of the OM is not clear since it is affected by histological preparations, such as that used to prepare this micrograph.


Ciliary bundles on sensory hair cells showing the kinocilium (at one end of the epithelium) and the stereocilia. All the hair cells are oriented in the same direction. Note that the sensory cells are separated by support cells and that each support cell is covered by large numbers of microvilli. We have suggested that the OM is held in close contact with the sensory epithelium by the microvilli. However, this has yet to be demonstrated experimentally.


Goby saccular epithelium. This low power SEM shows the whole saccular epithelium (anterior to the right) of a goby. The white dots are ciliary bundles of the many sensory hair cells found on this saccule. A small region towards the dorsal-rostral part of the epithelium has been denuded of ciliary bundles.




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