Not from Disney

The Red Sea, Tiran Straits, Egypt

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Another Sunday concludes, ending another terrific weekend and presenting the specter of another Monday coming too soon. Nancy and I look for distractions from the routine grind, trying to extend the weekend. We watch movies and talk about upcoming trips. My eye falls on this image of one of my favorite photo subjects, which never fails to amuse. In the water, I can watch these guys all day.

Anemonefishes (also called “clown fish”) are probably my personal favorites. They are colorful, vibrant, energetic, and fun to watch. These little fish are very active and despite their small size and bright, happy coloring are also generally very territorial and quite aggressive. Contrary to what Disney studios might have us believe, these little fighters are not at all timid. They will actually swim far out into open water to attack much larger creatures — including divers. Usually divers encounter anemonefishes defending their territory with an aggressive charge and strong nip. Fortunately, the anemonefish is very small and can’t do any real harm to anything as large as a diver (though more than one diver has nearly drowned from laughing when one of these feisty devils charges directly into their mask, announces its presence with an unexpected strike at an exposed finger, or chases the diver as s/he leaves to continue their dive).

These fish spend their entire lives in and around a single anemone. They are not naturally immune to the sting, but rather have evolved a way to avoid it. Over time the fish gradually coats itself in secretions of its “home” anemone, cloaking itself so that the stinging cells do not fire when touched by this particular fish. It maintains that immunity by continuously swimming in and through the anemone, constantly rubbing against it and renewing that protective coating. But this is a symbiotic relationship: In return for protection, the fish lures food to its host, defends it, and keeps it clean by removing small particles of debris or food.

(Canon Powershot G9 in Ikelite case with two Ikelite DS-125 strobes set to TTL, ISO 80, integrated lens at 9.9mm, f/5.6, 1/60 sec.)