ABOUT

Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last ten years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.

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Archive for the ‘Bony Fish’

Mar 25, 14     Comments Off

BAR-

BAR-

Hey gang, geez it’s 8:30pm!!! Talk about dropping the ball on the blog today, super sorry but I was so busy!! I took off to Blue Bay Resort with our friend Emma from Sweden at around 9:30am and spent around 2 hours doing a fun photo-shoot with her on the beach. I have been wanting to get more into photographing people and models (on land) and today was a perfect opportunity. We shot Emma holding beautiful conch shells, using Ikelite cameras, laying in the sand, on towels, with hermit crabs and on and on, it was super fun and I got some great photos to share, so stay tuned. Once I returned I met Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian and her and I went for one last round of beach combing as she flies back to the States early in the morning. The rest of the Smithsonian group left yesterday and as always they ALL will be missed, we sure love having them around!!

Here is a new fish for yours truly. This is a baby or juvenile Golden Coney, Cephalopholis fulva that I found under our ship while anchored at Daaibooi Friday with the Chapman. Actually I found two of them and both around 2-inches in length. I have seen adult Golden Coney’s in Bonaire on many occasions but I have never seen them here and I know I don’t have an photos of these cute, very colorful juveniles! This little fish will soon loose the orange coloring on the top of his body and turn completely yellow and look even more brilliant in the days to come. Coney’s which are in the sea bass family are normally found in shades of reddish brown to brown, (most common), but there is also a bicolor variation (upper dark and lower pale), and as you see here the uncommon brilliant yellow-gold variation, with scattered small brilliant blue dots. Coney’s are one the those fish that are a complete joy to photograph as they usually just sit there like groupers do and let you do your thing, acting completely unafraid. Obviously groupers are the best known members of the sea-bass family but they all have strong, stout bodies and large mouths. One can normally always find sea-bass and Coney’s lurking in the shadows of the reefs, ledges and wrecks where larger species blend with the background. Because of the large mouths these sea-bass have fishes or crustaceans are drawn into their gullets by the powerful suction created when they open their large mouths making them dangerous predators.

It’s time for bed, see you tomorrow!!

Barry

Mar 19, 14     Comments Off

Dragonette 2-web

Dragonette-web

Good morning friends of the sea!! Here is something super special that the scientists from the Smithsonian brought up yesterday ALIVE from….”are you sitting down”??, 940 feet!!!! How is that possible you ask to bring a fish up in one day from so deep without killing it?? Good question and one I asked as well. These remarkable little fish apparently have no swim bladders and are able to off gas very quickly. Once at the surface we rush them over to our waiting cold water, deep-sea aquariums and immediately get them back into a home-like environment with the same rocks and sand they are used to. This one here is named Foetorepus agassizii, and is around four inches in length. These fish are completely docile and honestly as relaxed as a fish can be and a complete joy to watch. They also have this super tall, very colorful dorsal fin that I so far have not gotten on a photo, he obviously isn’t that alarmed! Like all the other deep sea fish that we found this week like the Candy Bass, Golden Bass and the little Banded Basslets for example he also eats the little live mysis shrimps and most likely feeds on small crustaceans as well. Being that there is zero info out there on this fish I will keep asking questions and update it as more info becomes available.

The Smithsonian is in the submersible as I type, I am waiting again to see what is found today.

Hope your having a great week out there! I finally got my Specialized Epic fixed yesterday after two months (rear shock problems) of it being down and will be out riding tonight, can hardly wait!!

Later, Barry

Mar 18, 14     Comments Off

Hi friends, I have a beautiful Decodon wrasse sp. or Red Hogfish for your viewing pleasure today. This is one of three different Red Hogfish species currently being found and brought up alive by the new submersible called the “Curasub” This little sweetheart is around four inches in length and was found between 400-600 feet. Decodon is a genus of wrasses found from the western Atlantic Ocean through the Indian Ocean to the eastern Pacific Ocean. The wrasses are a particularly diverse and abundant family of reef fishes, with numerous species that occupy essentially all reef, rock, and grassbed habitats in the Caribbean. The bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum, is the single regional representative of a prominent labrid genus and is ubiquitous on Western Atlantic coral reefs. Another large genus of wrasses, Halichoeres, has more than 80 species throughout the tropics with many regional representatives, not all of which are closely related. There are three local razorfishes in Xyrichtys (note that Xyrichtys is frequently misspelled as Xyrichthys) and two hogfishes in Bodianus. The remaining labrid genera in the region are mostly monotypic: Doratonotus megalepis, Lachnolaimus maximus, Clepticus parrae, and the deep-water wrasse Decodon (above), the latter two species have a sibling species in the eastern Atlantic and in the eastern Pacific.

Busy day on tap, I have to go!!

Barry

Mar 14, 14     Comments Off

Good morning gang, here is one of the hands down most beautiful fish in the Caribbean and sadly no diver will ever get to see it!! This colorful beauty is called a Candy Basslet, Liopropoma carmabi and lives at around 225 feet!! This is considered a Sea Bass in the Serranidae family and only grows to be about two inches in length! As you can see, these mini sea bass are boldly marked with stripes generally in shades of light brown to red-brown or yellow-brown alternating with red to maroon but stripes may be occasionally yellow to lavender or even blue as you see here!! Around Curacao these fish are found in different shades of colors. For instance on Klein Curacao they have much more of a pink hue while here at the Sea Aquarium house reef they tend to look more like these. They typically inhabit deep coral reefs and rubble slopes and are very reclusive and will remain hidden inside recesses until danger passes. Also, FYI the top scientists in the World from the Smithsonian Institution are in the process of renaming this and other small deep-water sea bass to “Bass” not “Basslet”, so the new and correct name will be Candy Bass, not Candy Basslet. One deep-water fish that will remain a “true basslet” is the cute little Banded Basslet, Lipogramma evides.

I have to get ready for a dive with the submersible, the fun never ends around here!!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Barry

Mar 6, 14     Comments Off

I guys and gals, so yesterday when Aimee and I went for our morning hike I found a giant hermit crab about the size of a baseball walking around in a shell that barely fit him! His shell was so old and nasty that his whole body was hanging out, he really couldn’t even protect himself. Yep, you know where this is going don’t you?? I reached into my trusty backpack and pulled out my tupperware animal transporter and in he went. I carried him back to the car where we keep a big bucket in the back filled with dirt and food for just these little emergencies. When we got home I put him in one of our big turtle homes and laid 3 big, beautiful shells in there for him to choose from. Within minutes he had one picked out and “Presto” he moved out of the old one and into the new one!! He is currently playing in his water dish and being fed all kinds of different foods. So now I am waiting till Sunday when I can take him all the way back out and put him right back where we found him but first he will get a free professional photo-shoot, so stay tuned!!

I have a cute little Sharknose Goby, Gobiosoma evelynae resting in a little pocket of brain coral for you all today. These little fish as you may or may not know are known for engaging in symbiosis with other marine creatures by providing them cleaning service that consists of getting rid of ectoparasites on their bodies. In return, the Sharknose Gobies obtain their primary source of food, ectoparasites.

Sharknose gobies are very small, torpedo-shaped fish. Although sizes vary slightly by species, they are generally about (1.5 inch) long. They have dark bodies with iridescent stripes running from the tip of the nose to the base of the caudal fin. The color of the stripes varies by species. Like all gobies, their dorsal fin is split in two, the anterior dorsal fin being rounded like that of a clownfish and the posterior dorsal fin being relatively flat. The anal fin lines up with the posterior dorsal fin and is of similar shape. The pectoral fins are nearly circular, and, like all other fins, transparent.

Sharknose Gobies are generally carnivorous, with their primary diet consisting of ectoparasites on skins, fins, mouth and gill chambers of their clients. Depending on their ecological circumstances, they may also feed on zooplankton and non-parasitic copepods. Although they are carnivorous, they occasionally consume algae and other plants as secondary food source.

Sharknose Gobies have a unique response to predators approach. Fish response to danger is largely classified into two: fight-or-flight or freezing. However, Gobiosoma evelynae follows neither. It engages in cleaning interactions with potential predators sooner than with non-predatory clients, treating them almost as soon as they arrive at their cleaning stations. Furthermore, it was observed that these type of gobies clean predators for longer durations. As implied by higher cortisol level in the Sharknose when approached by predators, the fish do experience stress upon encountering predators, but unlike other fish that exhibit flight or freezing response, our brave goby demonstrates a proactive response. It is predicted that the Sharknose chooses to be proactive as cleaning predators faster makes them leave sooner, which in turn would encourage non-predatory clients to revisit cleaning stations. Moreover, such proactive response may serve as a pre-conflict management strategy that might result in safe outcome for interactions with certain predators.

Have a great day, I’m taking off underwater to see the submersible!

Barry

Mar 5, 14     Comments Off

Good morning friends, I have a colorful Puddingwife wrasse for your viewing pleasure today. As many of my fellow divers/underwater photographers know this fish never stops swimming and is very hard to get a photo of. I chased this one for 20 minutes trying to get off a lucky shot and came close to just calling it quits but wasn’t about to get beat by a little fish! Like many wrasses, the Puddingwife goes through a dramatic color/pattern change as it matures, though both the juvenile and adult animals in an attractive fish.

The puddingwife wrasse, Halichoeres radiatus, is a species of wrasse native to the Western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Bermuda, through the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico, to offshore islands of Brazil, being absent from Brazilian coastal waters. It can be found on reefs at depths from 2 to 55 m (6.6 to 180.4 ft), with younger fish up to subadults being found in much shallower waters from 1 to 5 m (3.3 to 16.4 ft). This species can reach 51 cm (20 in) in total length, though most do not exceed 40 cm (16 in). 

Favorite foods of this colorful fish are; Bivalves, snails, sea urchins, crabs, serpent stars, bristle worms, mantis shrimp and chitons.

The Puddingwife wrasse is found on lagoons and reef flats, generally over sand or rock and rubble substrates. This wrasse is often observed feeding in association with the Bar Jack (Caranx ruber). The two move and feed together on the reef. The Puddingwife grows to a large size and is capable of moving rocks as it searches for food. It may also be aggressive toward related wrasses.

Have a wonderful day out there!!

Barry

Feb 21, 14     Comments Off

Good morning mates, how are you all today?? I’m sure just knowing that today is Friday and a fun weekend is on tap is enough to make anyone’s day a bit better. I’m off on a long 3 hour training ride in the morning followed by an underwater photo shoot with free-diving bikini-clad ladies and the dolphins, again, some one has to do it! On Sunday I told Stijn we are not doing much trail work and for once going to have a great weekend of diving and relaxing, let’s see if things go as planned. Tomorrow is Aimee’s birthday so not sure what we will be doing, I do know she has to work so that kind of limits the adventure.

I have a bright yellow Longlure Frogfish, Antennarius multiocellatus that we found a while back on the Wannadive house reef in Bonaire. This one here was perched in a perfect area filled with small fish and lots of activity. To the fish he looks like a sponge, because of this all he has to do is wait and food will come to him, it’s honestly one of the coolest creatures in the sea!

Frogfish are considered bottom dwellers. They have the unique ability to mimic surrounding sponges by varying its background hue to match that of the dominant sponge in the area. It also has multiple ocellii (eye-like markings) that look like the openings in a sponge. The frogfish uses its stalked pectoral fins and its pelvic fins to slowly “walk” across the bottom. Frogfishes have been observed inflating themselves by filling their stomachs with air or water. This is a solitary species found in small populations. It is the most common frogfish species in the West Indies and harmless to humans.

These fish are a short, fat, globular species, it generally does not exceed 8 in (20 cm), though 5 in (13 cm) is seldom exceeded. Its skin is thick and covered in highly modified scales called dermal spicules. These spicules are prickly in appearance and resemble the warts of a toad. The frogfish has small eyes, a very large mouth that is directed upwards, and pectoral fins situated on stalks. The gill openings are very small and located behind the pectoral fins. The basic color of the longlure frogfish is highly variable, ranging from pale yellow to bright red or dark green to reddish brown. Black spots are scattered across the body no matter what the base color. Multiocellatus means “many eye-like spots” in Latin. It also has a phase where the body is completely black, except for the ends of the paired fins which are white, and for a pale area that resembles a saddle on the back. The second and third dorsal spines are separate from the others and covered in thick skin.

A unique feature of the frogfish family is that the eggs are spawned encapsulated in a buoyant mass of mucus, referred to as an “egg raft”. This structure may serve as a transport of moving a large number of eggs over a large geographical distances. Spawning can be dangerous for the frogfish due to the cannibalistic nature of the species. The male and female march across the bottom before spawning, with the female leading and the male close behind. His snout usually is in immediate contact with her vent. The female is bloated with eggs during this time, often swelling to twice her normal size. The pair will then make a dash to the surface and the egg mass bursts from the female. The frogfish may spawn several times over a few weeks.

A voracious ambush predator, it feeds mainly on fishes, but also on crabs and mantis shrimp. The name “longlure” is refers to the elongated illicium which acts as a fishing lure. The illicium is the first spine of the dorsal fin, highly modified into a long rod with a lure (esca) at the end. In most species, the esca looks like potential prey, such as a worm, crustacean, or even a fish. The frogfish will lie in a sponge and wait for a fish to swim by. It will then wiggle the lure around to attract the prey. It is capable of swallowing a fish that is larger in size than itself. Like a recreational human angler, the frogfish will move to a different location if no fish are biting. The frogfish is reported to be the fastest animal alive. It can move and suck in prey at speeds as quickly as 0.006 seconds, so only high-speed film can catch the action.

Have a great weekend, Barry

Feb 19, 14     Comments Off

Good evening friends, I finally got a blog done at night, I am sooo happy!! I found this resting balloonfish today on our dive and thought it would be something of interest.

This is a sleeping or resting Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus. We see this quite often and folks that are with me always ask afterwards, “what was the deal with the Balloonfish”?? Was he dead? Was he sick?? Nope, just resting I always say. It takes a lot of effort for a bulky awkward fish like a Balloonfish to stay in one place for any length of time as their bodies are like a floating bag of air with spines! So what do they do, they wedge themselves in between two rocks or under a big rope (above) where they can then just lay there and chill without having to fight to stay in one place. These fish are not the best of swimmers and rarely will be seen if there are rough conditions above. If the ocean is angry they will always find a cave or something to wedge themselves under like the one above and will stay there all day unless bothered. So divers keep your distance, you don’t want to scare one out of it’s hiding place, he may not go back and may have a hard time finding another place to hide.
Here are some fun facts.

The eggs of balloonfish move smoothly over the water surface at almost 96 hours before young ones are produced.

The adult balloonfish prefers to be alone while the juveniles stay in groups.

If threatened it has the ability to change colors or shades of light to dark.

They have big eyes that allow them to lurk for prey in the dark.

Their diet consists of hermit crabs, snails, coral polyps, sea urchins and mollusks.

It is a night-time/nocturnal predator that likes to stay out of sight during the day.

There are 19 different species of porcupinefish, a class under which balloonfish fall.

The entire body structure is imbued with coffee color spots while the unique tan coloring around the eyes is the hallmark of balloonfish.

When a balloonfish encounters danger and the attack is imminent, it responds with a display of magnificent spiny armor and fills its stomach with water. This process continues until the stomach bulges and the spines stand vertical. That is why it is known as a balloonfish because it turns itself into a balloon when it is scared.

Off to bed, have a great day!!

Barry

Feb 19, 14     Comments Off

Hi friends, late start again today, I really have to get back to doing the blog in the evenings, would be so much easier! I just got back from a fun but cold dive with my friends from Sweden. I took my 105 macro out this morning and worked on searching for just brain corals and then looking for more “coral letters” for my growing collection. Today I finally found a “J, X, O, and a B” so I officially have about half of them. Almost every colony of coral I looked at had at least one of these tiny, one-inch Peppermint Gobies parked somewhere on it, you just had to really stop and look. Their distinctive features include a yellow-gold to translucent body, a beautiful electric blue wash on snout and several pale lines ranging from red to olive found behind the eye and on forebody. This is a common fish seen perched on coral heads in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Usually when I first approach these little fish they will swim off to another part of the coral but if you stop and wait they will always come back, they are very curious.

The gobies form the family Gobiidae, which is one of the largest families of fish, with more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera. Most are relatively small, typically less than 10 cm (4 in) in length. Gobies include some of the smallest vertebrates in the world, such as species of the genera Trimmatom nanus and Pandaka pygmaea, which are under 1 cm (3/8 in) long when fully grown. Some large gobies, such as some species of the genera Gobioides or Periophthalmodon, can reach over 30 cm (1 ft) in length, but that is exceptional. Generally, they are benthic, or bottom-dwellers. Although few are important as food for humans, they are of great significance as prey species for commercially important fish such as cod, haddock, sea bass, and flatfish. Several gobies are also of interest as aquarium fish, such as the bumblebee gobies of the genus Brachygobius. Phylogenetic relationships of gobies have been studied using molecular data.

The most distinctive aspects of goby morphology are the fused pelvic fins that form a disc-shaped sucker. This sucker is functionally analogous to the dorsal fin sucker possessed by the remoras or the pelvic fin sucker of the lumpsuckers, but is anatomically distinct; these similarities are the product of convergent evolution. Gobies can often be seen using the sucker to adhere to rocks and corals, and in aquariums they will stick to glass walls of the tank, as well.

Lots to do, Barry

Feb 18, 14     Comments Off

Hi friends, we are back!! Many of you noticed and sent a mail off to me yesterday saying the site was down and could not be opened and for that I say thanks!! So what has happened is we moved our site from one host to another in hopes of better customer service and now as many of you noticed we are live thanks to Hostmonster!!

What did you all do this weekend?? Feel free to actually answer that question, we love to hear from you guys and gals! My weekend was filled with 3 things, mountain biking, trail building and baby turtles! Ah, that last one caught your attention didn’t it?? Some of you know we have four baby Red Footed tortoises and I finally built them a new outdoor sanctuary! For a year or more we have had these cute little 4-6 inch baby tortoises upstairs on our balcony in two different wooden boxes. The boxes are filled with dirt and have great caves and of course a pool for each one. Well, we found out through research that the dirt we have been using is too dry and can cause them to have breathing problems so upon reading that we decided to just re-do the boxes and build them a fun outdoor park of their own. Syijn helped me all day Sunday. He made a beautiful protective cover with metal screen and a wood frame that will keep dogs or Iguanas out while I worked on framing the area in brick, making a pool, building caves and bringing in lots of fresh soil and mixing it with leaves, it looks great and they love it! Since they are still small I will bring them upstairs every night before dark and put them back into their little protective homes for the night. These turtles have turned out to be a whole lot of work and have to be watched closely. Our biggest fear is having them flip over and not be able to get back on their feet, I seriously don’t know how these things survive in the wild?? And yes, I know I have promised to get photos for you, so hang in there a little longer, I will get them out for a photo shoot!

I have a mega camouflaged Scorpionfish for you all today that I found the other night, this one was very hard to see!

Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the world’s most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of “sting” in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae.

Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 metres (7,200 ft). Most Scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab in to a corner before swallowing. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fish’s buccal cavity.

Have a great day!

Barry

Feb 11, 14     Comments Off

Good evening friends, so, so sorry about the mega-late blog today, way too much going on!! Aimee and I had to go to our local heath insurance provider called SVB this morning and sit with sick people for hours waiting for them to call our number. I was there to pick up my new card and Aimee who was actually sick needed them to verify she is sick so her work (Dolphin Academy) will pay her for the few days she has missed, it’s a major mess!!

I met some divers that said they saw two different species of French Angelfish, both about the same size but they each had different markings. So upon hearing this I nicely said; “there is only one French Angelfish” but as you have pointed out, it has many different color phases. As little babies, (juveniles) they are all black with neon yellow stripes and at this age are considered one of the top cleaning fish on the reef. As they get older the beautiful neon stripes slowly disappear (fish on the right) until one day the stripes are gone replaced with hundreds of yellow elongated spots like the fish of the left. As the fish enters adulthood, (terminal phase) the face will become a beautiful blue color, the body and fins will become black and it will be covered in those cool yellow, odd shaped spots. Color change is very common in many reef fish making it very hard to identify the juveniles from the adults.

The French angelfish is common in shallow reefs, occurs usually in pairs often near sea fans. It feeds on sponges, algae, bryozoans, zoantharians, gorgonians and tunicates. Juveniles tend cleaning stations where they service a broad range of clients, including jacks, snappers, morays, grunts, surgeonfishes, and wrasses. At the station the cleaner displays a fluttering swimming and when cleaning it touches the clients with its pelvic fins.

The adult background coloration is black but the scales of the body, except those at the front from nape to abdomen, are rimmed with golden yellow. Furthermore the pectoral fins have a broad orange-yellow bar, the dorsal filament is yellow, the chin is whitish, the outer part of the iris is yellow, and the eye is narrowly rimmed below with blue. Juveniles are black with vertical yellow bands.

This species is oviparous and monogamous. Spawning pairs are strongly territorial and usually both partners defend vigorously their territory against neighboring pairs. During the day you will mostly see these fish out and about, but come night they seek shelter in their designated hiding spot where they return every night.

Sponges constitute 70% of the species’ diet and since sponges are plentiful the fish is normally well fed. It covers sponge pieces in thick mucous to help digestion.

Have a great evening, more tomorrow, Barry

Feb 5, 14     Comments Off

Hello readers, I found another new fish!! I’m pretty sure this is a Ringed Blenny, Starksia Hassi but feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I found this little one inch beauty fish hiding down inside a branching vase sponge in around 25 feet of water. In the small amount of information I found it says these fish normally inhabit deep coral reefs from 75-160 feet but this one was no where near those depths?? 

The common name blenny (deriving from the Greek ἡ βλέννα and τό βλέννος, mucus, slime) is ambiguous at best, as it has been applied to several families of perciform marine, brackish and some freshwater fishes all sharing similar morphology (shape) and behavior. There are six families considered “true blennies”, all grouped together under the suborder Blennioidei; its members are referred to as blennioids. There are approximately 833 species in 130 genera within the suborder.

Blennioids are generally small fish, with elongate bodies (some almost eel-like), relatively large eyes and mouths. Their dorsal fins are often continuous and long; the pelvic fins typically have a single embedded spine and are short and slender, situated before the pectoral fins. The tail fin is rounded. The blunt heads of blennioids often possess elaborate whisker-like structures called cirri. As generally benthic fish, blennioids spend much of their time on or near the sea floor; many are reclusive and may burrow in sandy substrates or inhabit crevices in reefs, the lower stretches of rivers, or even empty mollusc shells.

These fish are superficially quite similar to members of the goby and dragonet families, as well as several other unrelated families whose members have occasionally been given the name “blenny”.

Having a busy day with the submersible today!!

Take care out there!

Barry

Jan 31, 14     Comments Off

Good morning friends, it’s finally Friday!!! It’s been a weird week for me with a strange like cold that is still holding on which has been keeping me from diving and biking. The island is again being hit with high winds which in turn create rough seas and colder weather but the good side is, no mosquitos!!

I have a photo of my buddy Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut playing with or following two beautiful Whitespotted Filefish, Cantherhines macrocerus. These are usually very easy fish to approach and photograph because they are so curious and a complete joy to watch.  

Filefish (also known as foolfish, leatherjackets or shingles) are tropical to subtropical tetraodontiform marine fish of the diverse family Monacanthidae. Found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the filefish family contains approximately 107 species in 26 genera. Filefish are closely related to the triggerfish, pufferfish and trunkfish.

Their laterally compressed bodies and rough, sandpapery skin inspired the filefish’s common name; it is said that dried filefish skin was once used to finish wooden boats.

Appearing very much like their close relatives the triggerfish, filefish are rhomboid-shaped fish that have beautifully elaborate cryptic patterns. Deeply keeled bodies give a false impression of size when these fish are viewed facing the flanks. Filefish have soft, simple fins with comparatively small pectoral fins and truncated, fan-shaped tail fins; a slender, retractable spine crowns the head. Although there are usually two of these spines, the second spine is greatly reduced, being used only to lock the first spine in the erect position; this explains the family name Monacanthidae, from the Greek monos meaning “one” and akantha meaning “thorn”. Some species also have recurved spines on the base of the tail (caudal peduncle).

The small terminal mouths of filefish have specialized incisor teeth on the upper and lower jaw; in the upper jaw there are four teeth in the inner series and six in the outer series; in the lower jaw, there are 4-6 in an outer series only. The snout is tapered and projecting; eyes are located high on the head. Although scaled, some filefish have such small scales as to appear scaleless. Like the triggerfish, filefish have small gill openings and greatly elongated pelvic bones creating a “dewlap” of skin running between the bone’s sharply keeled termination and the belly. The pelvis is articulated with other bones of the “pelvic girdle” and is capable of moving upwards and downwards in many species to form a large dewlap (this is used to make the fish appear much deeper in the body than is actually the case). Some filefish erect the dorsal spine and pelvis simultaneously to make it more difficult for a predator to remove the fish from a cave.

The largest filefish species is the scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus) at up to 110 cm (43 in) in length; most species are below 60 cm (24 in) in length. There is marked sexual dimorphism in some species, with the sexes possessing different coloration, different body shapes, and the males with larger caudal spines and bristles.

Have a great weekend all, 

Barry

Jan 27, 14     Comments Off

Good morning friends, how was your weekend??? I know a bunch of you out there are locked in freezing temps and snow so it would be mean of me to tell you how sunny and beautiful it is here so I won’t even go there! I spent a good part of Saturday getting our car ready for it’s annual inspection which it did not pass last year! Each year here in Curacao you have to take your car to a government run inspection agency and pray your car passes. We just spent the last few months having rust holes repaired, putting new shocks on and doing tons of motor stuff like a new radiator and getting a tune up, so it should pass now, cross your fingers! I also spent Saturday building a big outside area for our four little red footed turtles. For the past year we have had them up on our porch in these big terrariums with caves and ponds but now it’s time to get them into a bigger, more fun environment. Yesterday, Sunday was our annual “Run for the Roses” event which is the islands largest cancer fund raising events and draws thousands of people. The events you can enter are, the walk, all different lengths, the run, a 2.5K swim out in the ocean and the extreme mountain bike ride which I did and won. Aimee did the long, cold swim with around 500 other people and finished in around 44 minutes and she did one of the bike rides as well. Our friend Stijn won the 60k bike ride and even though all these events are for fun and supposed to be non-competion events we all end up going all out just the same.

I have a beautiful, rarely seen Tiger Grouper, Mycteroperca tigris for your viewing pleasure today. The tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris) is a species of fish in the Serranidae family. This grouper has a tapered body, often reddish, with vertical stripes on its sides. It also may have, darker, dusky lines on the sides of its body. Young individuals are bright yellow and I have only ever seen one and never got a photo. This fish lives in sheltered reef areas. Growing up to 35 in (86 cm) long, the average weight is around 10 pounds. Groupers are big robust predators that draw in food by sucking it into their mouths. They usually live in five to 20-50 feet of water but with that said the one and only yellow juvenile I once saw was in 80 feet of water?? 

Considered solitary species occurring in coral reefs and rocky areas, it is considered an ambush predator that hides among the coral and sponges and is easy to approach. Although awkward in appearance, groupers can cover short distances quickly. Feed mainly on fish, which is drawn into their gullets by a powerful suction created when they open their large mouths. Held securely by thousands of small, rasp-like teeth that cover the jaws, tongue and palate, the prey is swallowed whole. This species is protogynous hermaphroditic, all fish smaller than 37 cm are female and all fish larger than 45 cm are male.

Have a wonderful day all, we are starting a new photo campain for Ikelite starting tonight so stay tuned for some fun new stuff.

Barry

Dec 27, 13     Comments Off

Good morning one and all, how was your Christmas??? We had a total blast from start to finish here in Curacao, the only thing missing was our friends and family!! Christmas morning we were up at 5:30 like little kids, first turning on all the Christmas lights, then whiping up a batch of Highlander Groog coffee, then feeding the dogs and finally onto shredding presents, what a blast!! Then since it was dead quiet on the island, not even a car to be seen, we loaded up the dogs and headed to the North coast for a crazy fun morning of driftwood collecting and exploring. We ended up hitting the driftwood jackpot finding an area hidden from others and it was completely full of new pieces of wood, I think we dug in that pile for over an hour. Once loaded up and on our way out we ran into our sub pilot Bruce who had just gotten out of the water from his morning surf session. As luck would have it, he said to toss the wood in the back of his truck and he would deliver it, I mean really what are the odds, that saved us from a ton of walking. Once home we made a Christmas breakfast to die for and then chilled out and watched a few movies. In the evening we went over to Stijn’s grandparents and had a Christmas dinner that few could have topped! It was served in courses and each new plate brought out was better then the last followed by a desert that could be served in any five star restaurant, what a great evening!

Sunday morning we left the house at 7:00am and took the dogs and our friend Mandy to Willibrordus and did a three hour walk around the whole salt lake, talk about a major adventure!!! On the hike we saw what we thought was dog poop everywhere and quickly discovered it was from wild pigs??? We have wild pigs here?? I never knew this and we even saw one running from a distance but it was too far away to get a photo. This turned out to be the longest hike we have done on the island and I think the dogs thought we were lost and never going back! I highly recommend this walk to all who love walking but bring plenty of food and water, this is about an 8 mile walk. Once back to the car the dogs collapsed in the back seat with a smile on their faces and were asleep in minutes, “a tired dog is a good dog”! We got back home at around 11:00 and after another great breakfast feast we went down into the air-co and watched a movie and worked on our new batch of photos that will soon be for sale. In the evening I went on a bike ride while Aimee worked on her desert wood horse project. She’s been building a horses head out of wood for the past few weeks and it’s really looking great, will take a photo for you when it’s finished. So that’s our weekend in a nutshell, what did you all do??

I had a request for a school of fish and found this one for you this morning. These are smallmouth Grunts that we found living under the Salt-Pier in Bonaire.

The smallmouth grunt (Haemulon chrysargyreum) is a member of the grunt family (Family Haemulidae) that live on coral reefs in the Western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Grunts derive their name from the make grunting sound they make with their pharylgeal teeth.

Also known by the common name banana grunt, the smallmouth grunt may range from 17 to 23 centimeters in length. Individuals of this species have an elongated cylindrical body with a forked tail and have a series of five or six yellow stripes running horizontally down their body on a silver background. They have a yellow tails and dorsal fins. Smallmouth grunts claim their common name because their mouths are smaller than other grunts.

Smallmouth grunts are generalist carnivores that feed on plankton, copepods, mollusks, and shrimps. They hang around the reef during the daylight hours. After sunset, they travel to open water where they feed.

Smallmouth grunts feed at night and spend their days hiding under ledges of within the braches of elkhorn coral and staghorn coral. The ocassionally form large schools on coral reefs.

Studies at the Saba Reef, one of the richest fish assemblages in the Caribbean Basin, have indicated the chief threats to Haemulon chrysargyreum and other reef fishes are overfishing and the residual impacts of the particular chemical dispersant used by the USA in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; this chemical has high persistence and known toxicity to a gamut of marine fauna. Studies by Burke et al. suggest that concentrations of dispersant and other water pollutants are of particular concern in critical lagoon nurseries; these studies suggest that the toxicity of residual dispersant may be much more significant to reef fishes than the actual petroleum release of an underwater oil spill. The dispersant used in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Corexit 9500, is known to be much more toxic than the petroleum chemicals it is meant to disperse; moreover, the combined toxicity of Corexit 9500 and petroleum is more toxic to juvenile fish than either chemical set by itself.

We have an 11:00 dive, I need to get ready!!

Have a great day, Barry

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