Trumpetfish: Sneaky, Relentless Predators on the Reef

 THINK ABOUT THE MOST RELENTLESS HUNTERS ON THE REEF and most divers would probably envision menacing sharks, barracudas and moray eels. But those are mere grandstanders in the predation game. High on the list of sneaky relentless predators would have to be a species of fishes that Caribbean divers encounter so frequently – and that appear so benign – that they’re likely to take them for granted and ignore them. After all, the ever-present

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Seahorses Are Super-Predators – An Awesome Video

IT MAY BE EXCITING TO FIND SEAHORSES ON DIVES – but watching them is like watching grass grow. They’re inept swimmers, so they rarely swim unless they have to.  But it turns out that seahorses are super-predators, more than 90 percent effective at bagging their prey – mostly tiny shrimp and copepods. WHY SEAHORSES ARE SUPER-PREDATORS – ANATOMY & SPEED One study using high-speed video to record seahorses’ movements found that the seahorse’s curved-body architecture

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Parrotfish Beaks Are Really, Really Strong

CORAL REEFS ARE DYNAMIC EQUATIONS, CONSTANTLY BEING BUILT UP AND TORN DOWN. The stony corals and the coralline algae mostly do the building. Major factors in the tearing-down side are parrotfish. And, especially, the teeth in parrotfish beaks. Parrotfish don’t set out to tear down coral. As herbivores, they focus on eating the algae that live on the surfaces of coral polyps’ calcium carbonate exoskeletons, or corallites. And they work at this pretty continuously, scraping

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Reef Lizardfish, Ambush Experts

LIKE ALL LIZARDFISH, REEF LIZARDFISH ARE AMBUSH EXPERTS. With their typical lizard-ish posture of sitting up on their pectoral fins, their M.O. is to lie on the bottom and grab passing prey in the form of small (sometimes surprisingly large) fishes with lightning-fast strikes. Reef lizardfish (Synodus veriegatus) are Indo-Pacific denizens, one of some 45 species found worldwide in Family Synodontidae. LYING IN WAIT With colors and markings that help camouflage them, lizardfish are found on

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Awesome Video: Pearlfish and their Sea Cucumber B&B

A POST HERE SEVERAL MONTHS AGO closed with the “Really Odd Fact” that blenny-like pearlfish (Periclimenes imperator) have a habit of taking up residence in the … well…rear ends of sea cucumbers. The overall post, “Sea Cucumbers – Superheroes of the Sea,” was about the fact that sea cucumbers, often ignored as inert, unimportant creatures, actually had a lot to recommend them.  THE PEARLFISH/CUCUMBER EQUATION The pearlfish/cuke interaction is generally described as commensal relationship, but that term implies a

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“Fish Flashing:” Fishy Therapy, or Simply a Good Backscratch? Plus, a Great Video!

WHETHER FOR HEALTH OR PLEASURE, FISH SOMETIMES ENGAGE IN A PHENOMENON CALLED “FLASHING,” otherwise known as rubbingtheir bodies along the sea bottom. Ned Deloach, in his estimable Reef Fish Behavior, describes it as an effort to deal with the irritation of parasites by scrapping them off, an alternative to the much more commonly seen symbiotic cleaning by small fishes and crustaceans. Discussions about the cleaning dynamic sometimes suggest that, in addition to health benefits, the fish

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Pygmy Seahorses:  Find them if You Can

PYGMY SEAHORSES (HIPPOCAMPUS BARGIBANTI) are small, fragile creatures of the Indo-Pacific, amazing in their ability to blend in with the colorful sea fans they spend their lives on. The question was: Do they choose the sea fan to match their color or do they acclimate to match the host sea fan’s color? Watch this awesome video from the equally amazing folks at Deep Look to find out – and learn a lot about pygmy seahorses

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 Fish Buoyancy – How Our Finny Friends Stay Neutral (Unless They Don’t)

ONE THING IS CLEAR – FISH HAVE BETTER BUOYANCY THAN YOU.  And, they don’t have to press any buttons. Many bony fishes have built-in versions of the buoyancy-compensators that divers use to control their position in the water versus changing ambient pressures. In these fishes’ case, it’s an internal gas-filled sac called a swim bladder that automatically works to counteract the ambient pressures applied by the waters surrounding it and keep the fish at neutral

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Puffers Sleeping, Brittlestars at Work

THE MARKINGS OF THE FISHES AT LEFT AND LOWER RIGHT suggest members of the genus Canthigaster, sharp-nosed puffers often known as toby’s that are found in the Indo-Pacific. But the specific designs and colors are sufficiently different from the familiar black saddled toby (Canthigaster valentini) to suggest they’re not described in any of the references I have access to. CANTHIGASTER POSEIDONSWEBUS   But there are a lot of fishes in the sea, so to speak, and

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Black Durgons: In Living Color

BLACK DURGONS (MELICHTHYS NIGER) HAVE LONG BEEN BOTH A FAVORITE FISH OF MINE and a challenge to photograph. A favorite because I like their dramatic effect – all that blackness with blue stripes along their anterior dorsal and anal fins – and their wiggly technique of swimming powered by those fins. A challenge because, well, they’re black. They suck up light like a black hole. And (see above), they’re wiggly. I’ve shot more black, blobby

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