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If you zoom in on this photograph of a Banded Butterflyfish (Chaetodon striatus), it almost looks like it is smiling. Perhaps it sees its mate with which it forms a monogamous pair. Either that, or is honing in on a polychaete worm for a tasty treat, but we do know that it is an adult, or close to becoming one, because the juveniles are colored differently, with a darker, brownish-yellow body, and possessing a prominent ringed dark spot on their dorsal fins.
 
The spot, at the base of the fin toward the tail end of the fish, acts as a false-eye to confuse predators into misjudging the direction the fish would flee when attacked; the adults don’t benefit from this trick of misdirection, as the spot fades away when they mature. This one lacks the spot, although its body isn’t quite a lightly colored as in the pictures of some of the adults I’ve seen.
 
The adults grow to somewhere between 12-15 cm (~5-6 inches) in length. When they aren’t eating the aforementioned worms, they might be going after coral polyps, something which they are specially evolved to eat with their pointy mouths.
 
This one was seen while scuba diving at the "Cathedral" dive site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 20, 2011.


#scuba #scubadiving #naturephotography #underwaterphotography #banded #butterflyfish #chaetodon #striatus #turks #caicos #false #eye  
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The Coney (Cephalopholis fulva) is a type of grouper. Like many fish, they are protogynous, serial hermaphrodites that start as females and later become males. Around 16 cm (~6.3 “) in length they become mature females, and by the time they are about 20 cm (~7.9”) they transition to being males, establish a territory, and maintain a harem of females. They typically grow to anywhere between 33 and 42 cm (~13-16.5”) in length.
 
There are actually three distinct colorations of the species. One of these is yellow, another is a reddish-brown on the top half and a pale color below, and (the kind shown here) which is a reddish-orange most everywhere.  All of them have spots, but the yellow form has them primarily on the head whereas the other two have them covering the entire body. The yellow form of the fish is always yellow, but the fish can actually switch between the other two reddish color forms, thought either to be useful for camouflage or as a sign of excitement.
 
This fine fish was photographed while scuba diving  at the "Cathedral" dive site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 20, 2011.

#naturephotography #underwaterphotography #scuba #scubadiving #turks #caicos #coney #grouper #cephalopholis #fulva #protogynous #hermaphrodite #camouflage  
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The Rock Beauty Angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor) starts life as a predominantly yellow fish with a small spot of black on each of its sides. As they mature, each of the spots spread until, as seen in this adult, nearly the entirety of the sides are darkened, with the exception of the rearmost (caudal) fin which remains yellow, along with the face, the pectoral and ventral fins (folded, and so not visible in this photo), and the abdomen above the ventral fins. Sometimes the lips also darken, as with this one, becoming black or blue in color.
 
The dorsal and anal fins maintain a colorful outline, which is yellow in some, but an even more impressive orange margin on the one pictured here. Also, on this fish, that same orange can be seen along the gill slits and above the eyes. If you zoom in on this photo, the typical sapphire highlights just above and below the eye are also slightly visible. It certainly earns the “Beauty” in its name.

The females grow  to about 10 cm (~4 in) and the males typically grow to about 20 cm (~8 in) but have been known to be as large as 35 cm (~14 in).

For a view of a younger one, much smaller and where the black spot has not yet completely spread, see my earlier post: https://plus.google.com/103568923622435206188/posts/ivzfDxLQtP5
 
This photograph was taken while scuba diving at the “Cathedral” Dive Site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 20, 2011.

#naturephotography #underwaterphotography #scuba #scubadiving #rock #beauty #angelfish #holacanthus #tricolor #turks #caicos
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Just a few days ago, in a previous post, I tried to describe just how different the Initial Phase of the Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) looks from when the fish is in its Terminal Phase, as pictured in that same post (https://plus.google.com/103568923622435206188/posts/3vbYeXjUo1n). Going through my picture archive, I discovered that while diving at the same site about two years earlier, I got a good picture of one in its Initial Phase, and here it is (who knows, maybe it’s even the same fish just two years younger!)
 
The photo was taken while scuba diving at the "Cathedral" dive site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 20, 2011.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #turks #caicos #stoplight #parrotfish #sparisoma #viride #initial #phase  
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The Atlantic Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber) is found in the Western Atlantic widely ranging all the way from Southern Brazil, up through the Caribbean, and as far north as Massachusetts. These fish have been known to grow as large as 3 feet long (~91 cm) and weigh as much as 20 lbs (~9 kg), but they are more typically in the 1-1.5 ft range (~30-46 cm).
 
The “spadefish” portion of the name obviously refers to its spade-shaped body. It also goes by another, but misleading, common name of “White Angelfish”, presumably based on its laterally compressed shape and the looks of its backward pointing dorsal and anal fins.  However, it is not a true Angelfish, which would belong to the Pomacanthidae family; rather, it belongs to the Ephippidae family which includes both spadefish and batfish. It actually has a quite a few other confusing common names, all of which can be found in its Encyclopedia of Life entry at http://eol.org/pages/1012129/names/common_names.
 
This particular fish was photographed while scuba diving at the "Aquarium" dive site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 18, 2011.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #turks #caicos #atlantic #spadefish #chaetodipterus #faber #angelfish #ephippidae  
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Not the best of photos, but one which shows off nicely the colors of the Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) in its Terminal Phase. Like most Parrotfish, the adults and juveniles look very different. In the Initial Phase it has orange colored dorsal and caudal fins and is also orange on from the belly to about halfway up the sides. From that halfway point up to the back it has a checkboard of white and brown colored scales.

The photo was taken while scuba diving at the "Cathedral" dive site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on July 5, 2013.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #turks #caicos #stoplight #parrotfish #sparisoma #viride #terminal #phase  
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There’s an old joke based on the telling of this riddle: “What’s green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?” The answer is: “A Herring!” In the joke, the person being told the riddle exclaims “Herrings aren’t green,” only to be told: “You could paint one green!” Next they complain “Herrings don’t hang on the wall,” and are told: “You could nail one to the wall!” And when, in frustration, they finally say, “But, herrings don’t whistle!,” the response is: “True, I just added that to make the riddle hard!

Herrings may not whistle, but if there were a fish that could then, going by the looks of the lips, it would be the Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus). Behind those lips are a row of teeth that they use to graze on algae.

The species name coeruleus is from a Latin word that translates into a variety of shades of blue, which makes sense given their color (although as juveniles they are actually yellow and as they mature go through a phase where the body is blue and the tail is yellow before becoming fully blue, in different shades, as adults). The genus name Acanthurus derives from two Greek words that, respectively, mean “thorn” and “tail”. This relates to the light horizontal mark you see where the tail meets the body. On each side of the body, at that location, is found an extremely sharp spine that fish uses for protection.

This Blue Tang was photographed while scuba diving at the "Cathedral" Dive Site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on July 5, 2013 (To be clear, I was scuba diving, not the fish!).


#scuba #scubadiving #naturephotography #underwater #underwaterphotography #turks #caicos #blue #tang #acanthurus #coeruleus #acanthuridae  
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Not the best quality photo, but currently the only one I have of a French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru). As juveniles, these fish work at cleaning stations, eating parasites and detritus off of other fish that stop by for a touchup. Adults, like the one pictured here, mainly eat sponges. This one was observed, and somewhat poorly photographed, while scuba diving at the “Cathedral” Dive Site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on July 5, 2013.


#scuba #scubadiving #naturephotography #underwaterphotography #french #angelfish #pomacanthus #paru #turks #caicos
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Here we see a very small colony of Branching Fire Coral (Millepora alcicornis). Fire Coral is a “coral” in name only. It looks like “real coral”, and is similarly in the Phylum of Cnidaria which includes the Class Anthozoa (containing the actual corals), the Subphylum Medusozoa (a group of aquatic parasites) and the Subphylum Medusozoa (corresponding to the Jellyfish and, more specifically, including the Class Hydrozoa to which Fire Coral actually belong). 

Through some amount of luck, the lighting and the background of this photo are just right so that you can see fine hairs sticking out from the colony’s skeleton. Each of those hairs has stinging cells which are used to poison and capture prey. If you happen to brush against the coral, the stinging will reportedly result in an intense pain that can last from days to weeks and there may be further injury from scraping against the sharp skeleton itself.

This particular Fire Coral was seen while scuba diving at the “Piranha Cove” Dive Site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on July 4, 2013.

#scuba   #scubadiving   #naturephotography   #underwaterphotography   #coral   #firecoral   #sting   #toxin   #millepora   #alcicornis   #cnidaria   #hydrozoa   #jellyfish   #turks   #caicos  
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I was first introduced to the Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus) many years ago, long before being certified for scuba diving. At the time, I was doing a “helmet diving” tour in Bermuda where each person wore a heavy helmet that was fed with air, pumped through flexible plastic tubes, from a boat on the surface. As we walked along the sea floor, our guide would point out the different coral and fish, writing information with a grease pencil on a slate. At a certain point, the guide brought out food that the fish clearly had learned to anticipate.
 
One of these fish was a Hogfish, which has the ability to eat hard-shelled creatures by crushing them with its pharyngeal jaws.  I will never forget the large fish coming straight toward our group in anticipation of some treat (and my memory of the event was that it, more specifically, was coming straight toward me).

The guide released some sort of mollusk in the Hogfish’s general vicinity, which was promptly sucked into its mouth. Soon thereafter, bits of shell began spraying out of its gills. What I learned that day is that the Hogfish is basically a swimming garbage disposal, able to pulverize anything that finds its way into the ‘sink’.
 
Hogfish are Wrasses, and like most of them, are protogynous hermaphrodites. This means that they all start as females and eventually change to males. They have a very impressive “crest” similar to what you see on the head of a Cockatiel, which they can similarly raise or lower.  Unfortunately, in this photo the crest is folded down along the Hogfish’s back. They are quite large, and can grow in size to be from 1-2 ft (30-60 cm).
 
This particular Hogfish was seen while scuba diving at the “Cathedral” Dive Site of Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands on July 5, 2013.

#scuba #scubadiving #naturephotography #underwaterphotography #turks #caicos #hogfish #wrasse #durophagy #protogynous #hermaphrodite #mollusk  
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