The Red-lipped Goby: A favorite Mediterranean fish

by | Apr 25, 2020 | Fish, Photography | 0 comments

I think a lot of people have a particular liking for gobies, there’s plenty to choose from with around two thousand or so species.  Not only are there plenty of ’em, but they are widely distributed, from cold arctic seas to warm coral-rich waters.  For me, one of my favorite species is quite close to home.

Living in the UK, Scotland to be exact, means I can be in the Mediterranean in a matter of a few hours, and whilst the Med doesn’t have the diversity of the tropics, if you look closely you can find some fascinating and colorful species.  one of my favorites is Gobius cruentatus, the aptly named Red-lipped goby.

I came across this specimen whilst on a deepish dive, to around twenty odd meters, so it was getting a little dark and I needed the spotting lights on my camera rig to find interesting critters.  I was shooting a small scorpionfish and noticed this guy sheltering under a large rock.

Like a lot of bottom-dwelling and well-camouflaged species, these fish seem to trust that they cannot easily be seen and will allow you to get close for an image.  In this case the fish allowed me to get a portrait shot and also a more traditional side-on view which I think does a good job of showing how well camouflaged they are, amidst this growth of algae.

I can’t quite fathom what role the red of their lips might play, perhaps it is used in courtship or in displaying to rivals when a fish needs to maintain its territory?  Let’s face it, these are commonly seen reasons for strong color markings, so either explanation is likely.


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