Dec 112014
 

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.

juvenile french angel 1024x768 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Juvenile French Angelfish

french angel 1024x818 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Adult French Angelfish

juvenile LF Bari M 1024x819 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Juvenile Lionfish

adult lionfish 1024x819 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Adult Lionfish

Juvenile queen angel S Lake 1024x819 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Juvenile Queen Angelfish

queen angel 1024x731 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Adult Queen Angelfish

juvenile schoolmaster 1024x731 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Juvenile Schoolmaster – notice the black stripe across the eye

adult schoolmaster m 1024x768 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Adult Schoolmaster – notice that the black stripe has disappeared

juvenile spotted drum S 1024x768 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Juvenile Spotted Drum

spotted drum adult 1024x819 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Adult Spotted Drum

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.

queen parrotfish initial phase 1024x682 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Queen Parrotfish Initial Phase

queen parrotfish adult3 1024x731 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Queen Parrotfish Terminal Phase

stoplight parrotfish initial phase 1024x682 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Stoplight Parrotfish Initial Phase

stoplight parrotfish adult2 1024x731 My How Youve Grown   A Comparison of Juvenile  vs  Adult Reef Fish

Stoplight Parrotfish Terminal Phase

What other reef fish display dramatic differences in appearance from phase to phase?  Extra points for links to your photos!

Nov 222014
 
m4s0n501

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.

squid the rock S 1024x768 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Reef Squid in Bonaire

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).

The Eye The Rock S 819x1024 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Reef Squid Eye, The Rock Dive Site – Bonaire

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.

squid trio 1024x731 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Squid Trio, Bari Reef Dive Site – Bonaire

Reef Squid Bari Reef M 1024x819 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

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.