Batfish or Spadefish – Who Cares?

Posted in Under the Sea on September 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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I had too many nice shots from Saturday’s dive at Magic Passage  to dump them all on you at once. So, today and probably tomorrow, I’ll finish them up.

Just as we went down over the edge of the seaward end of the passage there was a small gang of Batfish gliding along. Group sizes vary widely, from three or four to over a hundred. This little mob was the perfect size for my camera:

Circular Spadefish (or Batfish) - Platax orbicularis

It’s always difficult for me to figure out what to call the fish that I show to you. Common names vary wildly around the world. In my reference book, Reef Fish Identification – Tropical Pacific  (Allen, Steene, Humann, DeLoach), this fish is called the Circular Spadefish. If one wants to do a proper job of presenting fish, it requires the use of the taxonomic names. That’s why I tell you that this is the Platax orbicularis.  I also do this so that people looking for images of fish and information about them can find my site more easily using search engines such as Google.

For example, if you Google:   “Caranx sexfasciatus” madang

You will see:

Caranx Sexfasciatus  | Madang – Ples Bilong Mi 
Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)  form a solid mass of fish. This creates a mesmerizing pattern that looks artificial: – CachedSimilar

at the very top of the Google search results (unless someone else rises above me somehow). This link will take you to all of the posts on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  that feature images of the fish. This is handy for searchers and it gets me a large number of hits on my site. By the way, the Caranx Sexfasciatus  is commonly called the Big-eye Trevally.

Well, enough of that.

Here is something that I like to show once in a while – nothing. I’m pointing my camera in a random direction and snapping away. Sometimes the “waterscape” is as amusing as the details. What you see here is what you would see just about anywhere on the top of our reefs. Think of it as a rainforest underwater:

Reef community

When I see an image such as the one above, I am reminded that it is something that few people ever view with their own eyes on the spot. If everyone could take just one dive on a tropical reef, there would be far less difficulty getting people to understand why we need to protect them. From above, it just looks like a lot of water. Think of flying over a rainforest at ten thousand metres. It just looks like a lot of trees. You can’t even see the individual trees. But, if you walk around down there, you will see that it is jam-packed full of life. It’s a carnival of creation.

Here’s another typical reef scene:

Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus)

The fish are Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus).  The coral is Acropora robusta.

This is my pick of the day:

Amanda Watson on the edge!

It’s the extremely rare Amandanas watsoni,  commonly known as Amanda Watson swimming behind a lovely school of Anthea on the edge of the passage. She’s been sick, so she looks a little undernourished. We need to fatten her up.

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