I’ve posted photos of shoals of little fish before, making the assumption that these were juveniles of some fish species or other. However, this year the local snorkeling spot has been thick with these fish. It’s not been unusual for me to get in the water and find myself surrounded by a swirling ball of fish. It can actually be quite disorienting.
Because of this bumper crop, it occurred to me that I really should try to identify these fish. I think the answer is that they’re Hawaiian silversides, an endemic species. The problem is that there are a couple of other possible species, the goldspot sardine and the Hawaiian anchovy. Short of catching a few and examining them in the light of day, it’s hard to tell them apart.
Regardless of species, it’s been fun interacting with the shoals. Swim toward them and the shoal will part, then recombine behind. Point a camera in their direction and they jet off in another direction. It’s best just to float in the water, with the camera pointed in the right general direction. Then they’ll get quite close and I’ll snap a photo or two hoping something will turn out.
In the top photo, a shoal surges by in front of me. Below, the silvery stripe along their bodies can be seen.