It has been over a year since I’ve been in the water. People keep asking me what I miss the most. The answer to this seems to vary with my mood. Sometimes I really miss just hanging in the blue watching the life of a reef unfold below me, other times I miss venturing into a shipwreck, at night maybe, my torch picking out jumbles of tangled wreckage and critters scuttling away. Today, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking differently tomorrow, I’m missing the small stuff and the simple pleasure of finding an interesting little rock or bommie and scouring it for what we call ‘tiddlers’ in the UK.
The best of these, and one I never tire of is Bryaninops natans, the Red-eye Goby. I see these fellows mainly in the Red Sea, but they’re common all the way to Polynesia. You will need your best critter-hunting eyes installed though ,as they rarely exceed two centimeters and as the image below shows, their transparency can help them blend in.
Staying still and keeping an eye out for danger is important for these small fishes. This small animal, which I think is a species of Pleurosicya, is one of the many species that are incredibly numerous on the surface of some corals.
Identifying some of these tiny specimens is pretty difficult… for me, anyway. This might be Eviota guttata, but if anyone knows better, please let me know.
Some species are a little easier to ID, happily, especially when they’re getting a little larger and creeping into the ‘not-quite-so-darn-small’ category. This is Ecsenius dentex. Interestingly, my Red Sea ID book describes this from the Gulf of Aqaba only. This doesn’t seem to be the case as I took this image further south. Even, so it’s a rather splendid fish.