Tag Archives: Parrotfish

Two Step revisited

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your Happy Place.’ See more responses here.

There were a few options for this theme, but I went with this collection because I love going snorkeling and because, just a few days ago, my wife and I revisited Two Step for the final time before Hawaii loosened its restrictions on visitors. We got up early, drove down, and were in the water around 7:45 am. There were two other people swimming at that time, no one else waiting to get in.

The top photo was taken after our swim, around 9:30 am. In a ‘normal’ year, at this time of day, this whole area would be dotted with groups of people, and chairs and mounds of towels left by people already in the water. The bay would also be similarly populated with people, cruising around, looking at fish. There would be several snorkeling tour boats out in the bay, dumping people into the water. Two Step is one of the best spots for snorkeling on the island but, truth is, much of the time it’s kind of a zoo.

However, one of the nice things about Two Step, that I’ve mentioned before, is that it’s a marine reserve. No fishing is allowed and the fish have figured that out. I can’t emphasize enough how differently the fish there react to people than they do in areas where fishing and spear fishing is allowed. They’re so much more mellow and less inclined to dart away.

Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

I took this photo of two reef lizardfishes, waiting in their usual manner. It was only after I got home and looked at the photos that I noticed the third lizardfish lower down, near the right edge of the photo. On this day, they were everywhere.

Stareye parrotfish

The magenta lines around the eye of this fish identify it as a supermale stareye parrotfish. Parrotfish have initial and terminal phases. Most adults remain in the initial phase throughout their lives as either males or females, though some parrotfish are all females.

Terminal phase parrotfish are called supermales. These are female initial phase fish which have reversed their sex. They will fertilize most of the eggs laid by initial phase females in their territories. When one of these supermales dies, another initial phase female will reverse sex and take its place.

Peacock groupers

Peacock groupers are easily identified by their iridescent blue spots and, in larger specimens, lighter vertical bars toward the tail. They tend to be skittish fish, diving for cover when anything approaches. But these two were in an area where fishing is prohibited and I’ve noticed that the fish in these areas have figured out they don’t have to worry about people in the water (probably a big mistake).

Another trait of peacock groupers is that they will often hunt with eels and octopuses. That’s what these two were doing on this day. On the right of the photo, the tail of the eel can be seen sticking out from whatever cranny the eel was disappearing into.

But the thing I like best about this photo is the fish just above the head of the top peacock grouper. Not much can be seen of it except for two white areas that look like a mischievous grin. I suspect that these white spots are the bill of a large parrotfish, but I was never able to get enough of a look to be sure.

Crunchy parrotfish

This is, I think, an initial phase bullethead parrotfish. Parrotfish can go through several phases and look quite different in each one. Some also change sex.

So why is this titled ‘crunchy parrotfish?’ Well, I was watching this fish feed and when it feeds, it uses that big, white-rimmed beak to scrape algae and coral polys off the rocks. While it was doing so, I could clearly hear the quite loud crunching noise it made.

Ember parrotfish

Ember Parrotfish with bite wound

A couple of shots of ember parrotfish here.

The top one shows something of the peril of life in the ocean. This ember parrotfish is missing a chunk of its dorsal fin and back. I see it often when I go snorkeling and it doesn’t seem the least bit affected by its wound. It’s not unusual to see fish with a tail missing or a chunk removed from part of its body. If it heals, they seem quite able to carry on as normal.

In the photo below, this ember parrotfish has no wounds and is quite healthy. A couple of things of note about this fish. One is the dark algae ‘mustache.’ The other is that its eye looks exactly the same as the eyes of a teddy bear I had when I was a kid. Awww!

Ember Parrotfish

Stareye parrotfish

A stareye parrotfish in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii.

There are several kinds of parrotfish in the waters off the Big Island, but the lines radiating out from the eye make the stareye easy to identify. In its initial phase (below), those lines are much less obvious, and the fish blends in with its surroundings so well that it’s sometimes difficult to spot at all.

An initial phase stareye parrotfish in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii.