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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Anglerfishes: Graceful and Stunning in an Awesome Video

A STUNNING VIDEO OF PERMANENTLY MATED ANGLERFISHES  has been captured by two marine biologists in the Azores, in the Atlantic Ocean off Portugal’s coast. As deep-sea denizens, anglerfishes are best known for the bioluminescent lures projected from their heads, positioned to attract prey in the dark surrounding waters. With long, sharp teeth, they appear quite fierce, but because of the depths at which they live, much about them is a mystery. REMARKABLE MATING PROCESS But

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Balloonfishes, Porcupinefishes: Prone to Blowing Up!

WHEN YOU SEE PHOTOS OF PORCUPINEFISHES AND BALLOONFISHES, they’re often inflated like stuffed pincushions. In fact, like this..  But the truth is that recreational divers who are minding their manners are unlikely to see them in a puffed-up state (Note to wiseguys seeking to initiate inflation: leave them alone). With their bulky shapes in uninflated modes, they’ve have been described as “footballs with a tail.” Big-eyed and gentle, permanently affixed with Mona Lisa smiles, they

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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

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Fish Versus Fishes

Fish: The food you buy at a seafood counter Fishes: The animals, both individuals and species, primarily in the classes Chondrichthyes (sharks and rays) and Osteichthyes (bony fishes), that live in the water column. As in, “There are a lot of fishes on that reef…. and a lot of types of fishes.”  On the other hand, an individual fish is a…fish.

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Fish Watching Fish

IT APPEARS THAT DIVERS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES who watch the fishes under the sea. The roughhead blenny at front center is clearly interested in the doings of the sharknose gobies (Elacatinus evelynae) sharing its coralhead on Bonaire. A ROOM WITH A VIEW   Basically, that’s what these little blennies do: Sit in their windows in the coral watching the world outside. And grabbing plankton out of the passing current. The gobies, of course, are waiting for a client to appear,

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In Deep Waters, Corals Glow to Grow

CORALS’ ABILITY TO GLOW WITH FLUORESCENT LIGHT has been known for some time. The understanding with shallow water corals has been that fluorescent proteins absorb harmful ultraviolet rays, protecting the zooxanthellae algae that provide them with significant nutrition through photosynthesis (See “Corals’ Colors Are More Than Just Eye Candy”). IN DEEP WATERS, A DIFFERENT STRATEGY Now scientists have found that corals in deep waters, which receive very little solar energy, use different colors for a

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The Philippines: In the Triangle

MY POST IN THE ORIGINS SECTION, “The Far Side of the World: Geohistory & the Triangle of Diversity,”  helps explain why we in the U.S. pay much more money and travel much longer distances to dive in the Pacific rather than the Atlantic/ Caribbean. ICE AGE EXTINCTIONS    At one time ocean life was uniformly distributed worldwide along the Equator, but the movements of continents and the rise and fall of sea level ensured that many

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Seahorses’ Shape Gives Them an Edge

IF YOU’VE EVER OBSERVED A SEAHORSE, its tail wrapped around a sea rod or some other feature, its demeanor would seem to suggest lethergy and a wish that you would just go away. THERE’S CUNNING IN THAT CURVE    In reality, odd-shaped fishes as seahorses are, their curved bodies and horse-shaped head-and-neck anatomy give them an edge over their straight-shaped pipefish cousins by increasing the speed and distance with which they can capture prey (mostly

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