Eel Buddies

  THIS LITTLE GOLDENTAIL EEL used to live in a coralhead right at the top of the house reef at Buddy Dive Resort on Bonaire. I used to stop by and say hello every time I did a dive there. One year, it was joined by its distant chain moray cousin – two wild and crazy guys living it in the same efficiency apartment. Small, but a waterfront view! GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN After that

Read more

The Damselfish Stare of Intimidation

MY FAVORITE FISHES TO ENCOUNTER ON THE REEF are three-spot damselfishes (Stegastes planifrons), feisty little guys (usually three to four inches long) that sometimes find you before you find them. That’s because they’re herbivores – algae eaters – who “farm” algae patches for their personal consumption. They constantly weed out the algae they don’t want, to make room for the types they want to encourage. “GET OFF MY LAWN!” And they guard their little gardens

Read more

Bristlemouths – More Than You Can Imagine

– THERE ARE LOTS OF FISH IN THE SEA, the saying goes, and it turns out that most of them are bristlemouths, a fish you probably never heard of. TRILLIONS OF THEM   It’s a small fish “of the middle depths that glows in the dark and can open its mouth extraordinarily wide, baring needle-like fangs – is the most numerous vertebrae on earth,” says science writer William J. Broad in a recent article in the New

Read more

Parrotfish: 80 Species & Colorful, Complex Lives

PARROTFISH ARE SO COLORFUL, SO RELATIVELY APPROACHABLE AND SO ABUNDANT ON TROPICAL REEFS that it’s easy to take them for granted and focus on looking for “exciting” animals like sharks, frogfish and seahorses. It doesn’t help that, often, the species of parrotfishes are hard to identify. SPECIES, PHASES, COLORS & PATTERNS In reality, parrotfishes live complex lives that can involve changes of colors, patterns, size and gender. At one time naturalists thought there were about 350

Read more

Six Flower Garden Species I’ve Never Seen Before

EACH TIME, I DIVE FLOWER GARDENS BANKS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY, I APPRECIATE IT MORE.  After my last trip, I realized I had seen at least four fishes and two invertebrates I had never observed anywhere else. They’re presumably present elsewhere – but in 700 dives over 23 years, I’ve never seen them. And I focus on the marine life wherever I dive. 1) REEF SCORPIONFISH   I only found this little guy after the fact in

Read more