18 September 2009

Camoufish at Tanah Merah

We're back at Tanah Merah, a shore that teems with fishes. But not all the fishes are easy to find.
There are two fishes in this photo, can you see them?

The little blue Tropical silversides (Atherinomorus duodecimalis) were as usual being annoying and getting into the photo. The real subject was this gorgeous Feathery filefish (Chaetodermis penicilligerus). It was huge: about 12cm long. But Collin says he has seen even bigger ones! Wow.
The feathery bits, and transparent tail and other fins make it quite hard to spot. Here's a closer look at this magnificent fish.
There's a lot of weedy growths on hard surfaces, which can look uninteresting. But often, there are lots of fishes superbly hidden in plain sight. There are two filefishes (Family Monacanthidae) in this photo. They tend to curl their bodies so they look just like the brown seaweeds that surround them.
There sure were a LOT of Painted scorpionfishes (Parascorpaena picta) today! Among the seaweeds and on the rocks. There are two of them in this photo.
Here's a closer look at this large and handsome but almost invisible fish.
Other fishes are brightly coloured but also have tricky designs on their bodies. This cute little Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) is actually hard to spot in sunlit waters. The large ‘false eye’ on the back of its body may fool predators into thinking that it is a big fish! Smaller predators may thus be discouraged. And if a predator does attack it, the butterflyfish unexpectedly swims ‘backwards’. Its real eye is concealed by a colorful band. Its colours are usually brighter during the day, and duller at night.
But many other fishes were simply well hidden. This little worm eel (Muraenichthys sp.) was wriggling among the rubble and very hard to shoot. It's my first time seeing this fish on Tanah Merah, although they are quite commonly encountered on our other shores. It has small eyes and a sharp pointed tail.
A most interesting encounter was this Variable fang-blenny (Petroscirtes variabilis) in the huge shell of a dead Fan shell clam (Family Pinnidae). It looks like it is guarding eggs that it had laid on the shell! Everything on the shore has a purpose and use, even after it is dead. Nothing is ever wasted in nature.
I also saw several Head-stripe gobies (Amblygobious stethophthalmus) and as the tide turned, suddenly the shore seemed full of large Shadow gobies (Acentrogobius nebulosus).

James found a large Spotted-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus). He has gorgeous photos of this fish on his blog. Kok Sheng found a Tripodfish (Family Triacanthidae) and other interesting fishes too. More about these on his blog.

But one fish we are very glad we didn't see is the Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida)!

We also saw lots of other animals, as well as seahorses!

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