Fishy Thumbnails: Goats to Lizards

Not a definitive field guide to all fishes but thumbnail sketches of the Usual Suspects you’re most likely to see in dive destinations like Bonaire and Belize. Somewhat subjective and Caribbean-centric. Includes links to detailed posts, when I have them.  PART TWO OF THREE: PART 1: A – F:  ANGELFISH TO FROGFISH THIS POST: G – L: GOATFISH TO LIZARDFISH GOATFISH Goatfish, encompassing some 86 species worldwide, get their name from the pairs of goatee-resembling

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Fishy Thumbnails: Angels to Frogs

Poseidon’s Web isn’t intended to be a definitive field guide to all the fishes and critters on the reef. But here’s an overview of general categories and thumbnail sketches of the Usual Fishy Suspects you’re most likely to see in dive destinations like Bonaire and Belize. It’s in three parts; this is Fishy Thumbnails 1, Angelfish to Frogfish. It includes some of the more famous fishes from the Indo-Pacific but simply as a matter of

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Bermuda Chubs: Just Hangin’ Around

Bermuda Chubs (Kyphosus sectatrix) are sort of the Charlie Browns of reef fish. Where many fishes, like Bluestriped Grunts and Gray Snapper spend their days hanging around waiting to go forth and scrounge in the sandflats once it gets dark, Bermuda Chubs just seem to hang around. None of my references make any mention of them being nocturnal foragers.  BERMUDA CHUBS ARE ELLIPTICAL-SHAPED, 10- TO 12-INCH FISHES reputed to earn their livings eating algae and

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Damselfish: Small, Shy, Feisty

 Damselfish like Threespot, Dusky and Bicolor Damsels don’t have the celebrity status of more charismatic members of Family Pomacentridae like Clownfish or the in-your-face visibility of Sergeant Majors. But they’re feisty little guys who deserve attention – and, in fact, encountering Threespot Damsels (and the Damselfish Stare of Intimidation) are among my favorite things on the reef. EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT CLOWNFISH AND SERGEANTS BUT OTHER MEMBERS OF THE DAMSELFISH GROUP – like Blue and Brown

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Barracudas: A Tale of the Teeth

Looks aren’t everything, and barracudas prove that. Sort of. In a word, they look fearsome, and fearsome they are to their fishy prey – generally guys like grunts, groupers, snappers, even small tunas and other fishes. They look fearsome to divers, but unless you go up and try to punch them in the mouth or something (not recommended) they shouldn’t bother you. BARRACUDAS LOOK FEARSOME BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE FANG-LIKE TEETH – zillions of them

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Benthic & Pelagic Fishes: Defining Oceanic Lifestyles

Describing pelagic fishes is easy: They swim, feed and just hang out in the open ocean, a pretty consistent pattern across many ocean-going species. Describing benthic fishes is something else. They live at the bottom of the ocean but they go about their lives in a bunch of differing ways – above, on and sometimes in the seafloor. Some may engage in all three approaches. IF TOLSTOY HAD WRITTEN ABOUT MARINE LIFE, he might have

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Why Are Flounders Flat? Because it Works.

Flounders are famously fishes that start out with typical-fish body shapes and morph into bottom-dwelling flatfishes that live sideways, with both eyes on the same side. As weird as this sounds, they’re highly successful survivors and predators. But why are flounders flat? And how do they get flat?  FLOUNDERS ARE THE FISHES THAT PABLO PICASSO MIGHT HAVE DREAMED UP – all the parts are there, just arranged differently. And Peacock Flounders obviously would have been

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How Do Flying Fishes “Fly?” Well, Actually, They Glide.

Why do flying fishes fly? To escape predators, to flee from surprises like boat engines next them, perhaps to entertain you during the ride to a dive site. In any event, they earn their names by propelling themselves out of the water and gliding for long distances on broad pectoral fins. Torpedo-shaped and silvery, sometimes with markings in subdued colors, they’re not especially exotic visually. But they’re impressive both underwater and in the air. YOU’RE

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Seahorse Anatomy: Differences Way Beyond “Cute”

Seahorses are at once weird and wonderful, exotic and underwhelming and unique among bony fishes. Underneath their obvious horsey-head charm, seahorse anatomy is really, really different from other fishes. THE MOST OBVIOUS THING ABOUT SEAHORSES IS THEIR BODY DESIGN – an upright torso connecting a horse-shaped head and a monkey-like tail. They’re bony fishes, but pretty much the only bony fish that swims upright. When they swim. If searching for them carries an air of

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How Fish Feed: For One Thing, They Suck It Up

If your idea of how fish feed on the reef is ferocious hunters swooping in to grab other fishy prey, you’re very unlikely to see that on most dives. But the 28,000 species of bony fishes in the world’s oceans make their livings in a myriad of ways – and they’re doing it all around you. IF YOU’RE SURPRISED AT HOW LITTLE FISH-ON-FISH FEEDING ACTION YOU ACTUALLY SEE WHILE YOU’RE UNDERWATER, a major reason is

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