Photo Friday: Portrait

Redhead Coralgoby, Paragobiodon echinocephalus, AmbonFor this week’s Photo Friday: Portrait challenge:  It took almost two hours to get this portrait of the tiny Redhead Coralgobies. Learning the nature of a fish is often key to getting a decent image. Coral gobies live deep within branching corals and often take the same path through those branches. Having the luxury of time to spend watching, waiting and positioning usually pays off (but not always).

Photo Friday: Alive

Flamboyant Cuttlefish ready to hatch Ned DeLoach

Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Metasepia pfefferi, ready to hatch from its egg.

Our submission for this week’s Photo Friday topic: Alive is tiny a Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi), about to hatch. We’ve shot this several times over the years; the first time was in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia in 2006. At the time, we had no idea how to tell when the cuttlefish would hatch, so we spent hours and hours over many days, watching them. We finally learned that when they are ready, the developed cuttlefish would turn these dark red, purple and orange colors, then suddenly without any other warning, pop out, a fully formed miniature of the adult.

Photo Friday: Twilight

Spawning hamlets Ned DeLoach

Butter Hamlets spawning

This is our entry for this week’s Photo Friday Challenge: Twilight. Spawning hamlets can be seen at twilight. This is an interesting time on the reef – daytime fishes have bedded down and the night-time feeders haven’t yet emerged from their hiding places. A few fishes, like the normally solitary hamlets, take advantage of the low light (presumably to avoid predators) and pair up at twilight to spawn. Ned calls it the best peep show on the reef.

Yawning Fishes

Yawning Lacy Rhinopias by Ned DeLoach

Excuse me fish, am I boring you? Lacy Rhinopias giving us the full stretch.

We see fish yawn fairly often, but have to be in the right place at the right time to capture the behavior. In Papua New Guinea, this Lacy Rhinopias, a member of the scorpionfish family, was on the same coral head every day for a week so everyone had a chance to photograph it from every angle. Ned saw it yawn from a distance and knew he wanted that head-on shot, so he went back and sat for quite a while, waiting for the right moment to press the shutter button. This is how it usually happens – we see it from a distance then try to position ourselves for the shot and wait. Sometimes the fish will yawn again right away; sometimes it can take 30 minutes.

While we associate yawning in humans with boredom or sleepiness, I’ve heard a few different theories about why fish do it. One is that they are stretching their mouths to be ready to feed  – kind of like flexing their muscles. Another is it is a sign of annoyance or warning, like “Hey you with the big camera – back off!”

Yawning Hairy Frogfish Ned DeLoach

Is the frogfish yawning to flex its muscles or to threaten us?

While I was looking for information about fish yawning, I came across this cool site about yawning with everything you could ever want to know about the topic. It has a number of articles about yawning in fishes, including one that concludes it increases muscle tone, aiding in preparing the animal for action.

If you want to see yawning fish in action, check out this short video over at our Blenny Watcher YouTube channel: