Jan 202013

One of my favorite activities to observe and photograph underwater is fish cleaning behavior.  It’s a process called mutualism, since it is mutually beneficial for both species involved.

Certain species are well-known for their job as cleaners, most notably Wrasses, Gobies and Cleaner Shrimp.

What do fish need to be cleaned?  Doesn’t the water naturally cleanse the fish?  Not necessarily.  The cleaner fish addresses issues such as wounds, mucous, dead skin and parasites.  It benefits by absorbing nutrients from this process.

Here is a gallery of my favorite cleaning behavior shots.

For more information, here is an excellent article about cleaning behavior on the Great Barrier reef by Dr. Alexandra Grutter.

Cleaner Fish do Clean!


Sep 192012

The titan triggerfish is well known to those who dive and snorkel the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.  It’s dramatic coloring, relatively large size (30 inches/75 cm) and cartoon-like eyes render it a very attractive subject for underwater photographers.

Titan Triggerfish, Maldives

But is it safe to photograph this species?  Do you dare get too close?  Is it true that the titan triggerfish attacks divers and snorkelers, or is this only a myth?

It’s not a myth.  However, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the water.  The truth is that some male titan triggerfish in certain regions, and during certain seasons, have a tendency to charge at and/or bite divers and snorkelers who unknowingly enter their “territory”.  The “territory” is generally a cone shaped area directly above their nest (which is usually found in the sand close to and around coral).  The widest part of the cone shaped area/territory is at the surface.

Titan Triggerfish, Rangiroa – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Sometimes the fish will simply make a quick charge at the diver or snorkeler to “evict” them from the nesting territory.  In other instances the fish may bite the diver or snorkeler as they are trying to flee.  But most of the time, a titan triggerfish will ignore a diver or snorkeler.

My what large teeth you have

Mr. Reeftraveler was bitten by an aggressive titan triggerfish several years ago.  Here is his account of the story.

“It was a beautiful day of diving on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs near the Cod Hole.  As I was swimming amongst the colorful variety of sponges, coral and invertebrates, I suddenly felt a stabbing pain in my calf and knew it wasn’t simply a nip from a curious damselfish or a hungry sergeant major.  I turned around and was surprised to see a large titan triggerfish, doral fin erect, readying itself for another charge at my leg. Upon first glimpse of the wound, I could see the distinct tooth marks from the googlie-eyed fish, and I quickly slapped my hand over the open wound and began to swim away towards the direction of the boat.  I swam slowly upward to avoid an uncontrolled ascent.  Not wanting to leave well enough alone, the fish followed and nipped at my fins as he angrily escorted me away from what I then assumed was his nesting area.  After 30 or 40 feet, the triggerfish zoomed away back towards its nest,  and I was able to continue safely back to the boat to have the wound cleaned.  It was later that I learned that the titan triggerfish protects its nest in a cone-shaped pattern, and that if I had descended instead of swimming upward I would have been out of its protective zone far sooner.”

Titan Triggerfish, Maldives

So what should you do if you see a titan triggerfish?  Should you immediately flee the area, or should you stay and watch this beautiful creature (photographers need not answer – I already know your response)?

Titan Triggerfish, Fakarava – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Most of the time, the fish will ignore you.  Watch the fish from a distance for a minute or two and look for signs of agitation (including an erect dorsal fin or charging or darting).  If the fish seems ambivalent about your presence, go ahead and take photos.  It’s best to stay at the same depth as the fish and as far away as possible (while still close enough to get a good shot).  The Maldivian titan triggerfish shots that I took above were from a distance of about 4 feet.  If you find yourself face to face with an aggressive titan triggerfish, remember to swim away horizontally at the same depth.  This is the quickest way to exit its territory.  And while swimming away, swim backwards while keeping your eyes on the fish and point your fins toward the fish.  If it decides to bite, let it take a chunk from your fin instead of your leg.

Two Titans, Maldives

Have you ever seen a titan triggerfish?  Ever been bitten?  Did you think this was a myth? Let’s hear your stories…

Apr 262012

It seems like more and more webcams are popping up each day.  Sure, you can bookmark all of them, but then you end up with a long, cumbersome lineup of bookmarks that make it difficult to find anything.  So, we’ve come up with a solution for the webcam lovers of the world.  Now you can bookmark only one page, and it’s here at Reeftraveler.

Bucuti Beach Webcam, Aruba

We’ve compiled a list of the most amazing tropical webcams from around the world.  From Fiji, to the Caribbean, to Costa Rica to Kenya – our favorites are here on one page.

Webcam View of Peter Bay, St. John from www.villavacations.net

And here’s a little tip for webcam newbies, if you click on the link and all you see is black, it is dark in that area of the world.  Check back in a few hours.

Bora Bora Lagoon Webcam

Do you know of any tropical webcams to add to our page?  If so, Email us at reeftraveleronline@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

Jan 142012

I’m an island located on the east coast of Australia.  I’m a World Heritage site, and the largest sand island in the world.

I have rainforests, beaches, eucalyptus woodland, lakes and beaches.  Below is a photo of my most famous beach.

Who am I?