When I’m out on a reef, on assignment or simply enjoying myself with my camera, I always try to shoot some fish portraits; picture editors seem to like a few close-ups to balance the ‘diver in the coral/wreck’ shots. One of my very best (and most reliable) subjects is the Freckled Hawkfish.
Hawkish are common fish across the tropics and are especially plentiful in the tropical Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. Hailing from the Cirrhitidae family, there are 33 species, according to Fishbase.org. One of the most common is Paracirrhites forsteri, known to me as the Freckled Hawkfish or the Black-sided Hawkfish. It’s an interesting species and happily, easy to approach to get a few shots ‘banked’. It sits in hard corals, especially branching Acropora, darting out to catch small prey such as crustaceans and small fish. I’ve only ever seen them as solitary individuals, but haremic structures can occur, with all-female fishes, turning to males, as they become the largest. They also show a range of color. Young fishes are very colorful; some juveniles are almost entirely red and very attractive (main pic). Older fish become either blackish in coloration or a strong reddish brown, with pale underparts. The freckles are common throughout the morphs and occur on the head and around the base of the pectoral fins. The fish are found down to forty meters on seaward reefs. They can reach a little over twenty centimeters in length.
juvenile freckled hawkfish