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Do you remember the first time you snorkeled or dived in warm tropical waters? I certainly do! What struck me the most was the vibrantly colored reef fish, with their eye-catching stripes, polka dots and patterns. Blue tangs, striped grunts and vibrant parrotfish schooled around me as I swam in total amazement. I was hooked for life!
Over the years, I honed my fish ID skills by pouring over fish charts and the Humann & DeLoach Reef Fish ID books (required reading, IMO). And as an underwater photographer, I frequently reference the Fish ID books when I’m unsure of a species that I’ve photographed. One aspect of fish ID that I’ve consistently found fascinating is the dramatic change in appearance of certain reef fish as they undergo the maturation process.
Here are a few examples of common reef fish in their juvenile versus adult phases.
Parrotfish and wrasse have a unique classification of life phases. The adult phase is referred to as the initial phase. There is then an additional phase composed only of sexually mature males called the terminal phase.
What other reef fish display dramatic differences in appearance from phase to phase? Extra points for links to your photos!
Donate $15 or more to Ocean Conservancy by Friday, December 5th, and you will receive this cute winter hat. I’m not much of a winter person, but it’s for a good cause, and I LOVE the hat.
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The Carribean Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea) is one of my favorite reef creatures to observe. Sometimes shy, and often curious, every encounter with this cephalopod is unique.
Reef squid are often found in schools in shallow reef areas. Some encounters are brief, as a disturbed or threatened squid can employ jet propulsion to swiftly exit the area (blink and you’ll miss it).
Yet an experienced diver, snorkeler, fish watcher or photographer can occasionally enjoy a prolonged encounter by staying relatively still, approaching slowly and avoiding exaggerated or quick movements.
Here are some cool facts about the Reef Squid.
-This species communicates and sends signals by changing it’s body color. If it senses a threat, it will turn very pale while retreating.
-Both male and female Reef Squid die after reproducing.
-It is known to consumer 30-60% of its body weight per day.
Here are a few more shots from our last dive at Bonaire’s Salt Pier – all in Black and White. These shots were taken from the end of the pier by the drop-off. This is where we often find schools of tarpon and barracuda.