Interesting behavior in Sailfin Tangs on a Red Sea fringing reef

by | Dec 6, 2020 | Photography | 0 comments

I recently posted about a short dive on a Red Sea fringing reef, with images showing just how variable the underwater scenery could be and how, within just a few meters, the reef could look markedly different.  In this post, I refer to that previous one with another habitat coexisting with the previous coral-rich and well-lit locations.  I was able to capture a series of shallow fissures in the reef.

What I noticed first, of course, was a shoal of desjardini which, and I’m no expert, appeared to me to be somewhat lost.  I normally associate these fish with well-lit algae-rich reefs – had they simply taken a wrong turn and would soon find their way back to the reef proper?

After I’d had my fun shooting the fish with that lovely light streaming from the surface a few meters away, it occurred to me that these were not caves, but more likely the result of coral growth, where bommies and areas of coral, once separated by sunny passages, had closed over. The good growth above had created something analogous to a cave roof.

Thankfully I was with a guide who knew his way around. I could have spent ages in what I had first considered to be cracks, but now know to be slowly developing structures, not something that was broken or falling apart.

On departure we found a few more tangs which were doing something I’ve never seen them do in the wild, and that’s eating jellyfish.

The jelly swarm was nearing its end with most dead or dying.

I’ve seen many Red Sea species feeding on jellies, but never sailfins.

It all added to a fascinating dive.


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