Tag Archives: Jacks

Yesterday’s swim

A small shoal of convict tang feeding.
I think this is a spotted coral blenny on a head of purple cauliflower coral, and possibly a small trumpetfish.

This is a second response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme of ‘Waterworld.’ (See more responses here.) Yesterday, I posted about the movie Waterworld. Today, it’s a probably more expected response.

These are photos I took during my swim yesterday. Visibility in the water was patchy with some good areas and some not so good. I didn’t see anything startling, though the mackerel shads aren’t a common sight. Last time I saw such a shoal there was a great barracuda lurking on the other side. I looked around and, sure enough, there was another one looking interested as it cruised low down, too low for a decent photo.

The other oddity was in the photo at left. I saw what I think is a spotted coral blenny on this patch of cauliflower coral, and snapped a quick photo before it took off. But it was only when I processed the photos that I saw something else, to the left and slightly below the blenny. I think it’s a small trumpetfish, but it could be something else. A lot of small fish and other creatures hide in coral heads so I must pay more attention from here on.

In short, it was a fairly typical swim.

A shoal of mackerel scad on the left with yellow tang on the right.
Little fish enjoy the comparative safety of the shallow water in the surge zone.
On the left, a fourspot butterflyfish and a cushion star. On the right, black triggerfish are cleaned by a Hawaiian cleaner wrasse.
Just before getting out I saw this small Pacific trumpetfish with goldring surgeonfishes.

Threadfin jack juvenile

I posted a photo of a threadfin jack juvenile back in August, in part to illustrate the fact that I hadn’t seen any this year, which was unusual. September came and went without sightings, so I’d pretty much given up the thought of seeing one when October rolled around. But on October 2, I got in the water and soon bumped into this little fellow.

I don’t know why the sighting was so late this year. Possibly the murkier water this summer has something to do with it. But it’s no clearer currently, which is why that day was the only sighting I’ve had. I know other people have seen it since so it’s still around. But even if I don’t get a second look at this fish, I’m glad to have seen this one at all. They’re not often seen, but they really are spectacular little fish and I appreciate every encounter with them.

Threadfin jack juvenile

Threadfin Jack JuvenileThis week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Fake.’ See more responses here. I don’t really have many photos that fit this bill, but this one does. This exotic-looking little fish is a juvenile threadfin jack. This is a fish that will grow up to become large and blocky, living in deep water and rarely seen by snorkelers of divers.

But as a juvenile, while still not often seen, it hangs around in shallow waters towing this extraordinary array of filaments. The theory is that the filaments make it look like a jellyfish and thus much less appetizing to predators. The fish will putter along, then throw in a few moves that make the filaments ripple. The first time I saw one doing this, I thought it was a jellyfish. It faked me out, which is exactly the point.

Usually, each year I see one, two, or even three of these juveniles in my local snorkeling bay, but this year I haven’t seen any or heard of them being spotted by anyone else. Not sure why this is. The water has tended to be murkier than is usual in the summer, but otherwise not much has changed. May and June is the usual time to see them, but I have seen them as late as September, so there’s still time. (This photo is taken from a previous year.)

I hope one or two do show up. Seeing them is one of the highlights of the snorkeling year for me.

Bluefin trevally

A couple of bluefin trevallies seen while snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay. The area is a marine conservation district where fishing is prohibited. In general, I’ve found that fish in such districts are less skittish and more likely to approach snorkelers, so it’s a good place to get photos of some otherwise elusive fish.

Bluefin trevallies aren’t exactly elusive, but these two passed close by, unperturbed by my presence.

Rainbow runner

During a recent swim I was somewhat startled by the sudden appearance of these two large fish. I was close to shore when they shot past. At first I thought they were sharks, but quickly realized that wasn’t the case. They were just very big fish.

Their size, and the shape of their tails, made me think of jacks, and indeed they are. Rainbow runners are deepwater fish. They often congregate around floating objects, preying on smaller fish that gather there, such as mackerel scad.

The larger of these two, in the top photo, was probably around three-and-a-half feet long. Those smaller, dark fish are around 9 inches long.

Greater amberjack

A greater amberjack swims by

Nearing the end of a long swim, I noticed these two fish swimming towards me. At first I thought they might be bluefin trevallies, but I could see the coloration was wrong. The other thing I noticed is that the two fish never deviated in their course, which took them right by me. Most fish, when they see someone coming their way, will zip away or at least cautiously ease around the interloper. Because they passed so close to me, I was caught by surprise and only managed to get these two shots before they were gone.

The fish are greater amberjacks, which spend most of their time in deeper waters, but occasionally venture in shallower waters as these two did. The fish are easily identified by the dark diagonal bar through the eye and the yellow stripe along the sides, though that isn’t always visible.

A greater amberjack swims by

A mackerel scad school draws attention

Mackerel Scad shoal

Mackerel Scad shoal over coralMackerel scad are schooling fish, the kind that make ‘bait balls’ which end up being decimated by large predators. They’re members of the jack family, not that this does them much good. Some of those large predators are other members of the jack family such as greater amberjacks and almaco jacks.

I came across this school not far from shore. There were probably two or three hundred fish in the school and it was fun watching them twirl and circle in harmony. They encircled me, went past and I popped out the other side. It was then I noticed they weren’t alone. One the other side of the school, a medium-sized great barracuda cruised around.

The barracuda came toward me to take a look, but I was clearly less interesting than the scad and it moved away again. The barracuda can be seen in the bottom photo. See if you can spot it.

Mackerel Scad shoal and a great barracuda