Postcard from the Reef – Juvenile Rockmover Wrasse

The juvenile rockmover wrasse, sometimes called a dragon wrasse is a wild appearing fish. With an abundance of frilly appendages it moves like a bit of seaweed caught in the swell. In my experience this fish is always found in an open area, a coral or sand flat between large heads or in wave channels.

While not rare, they are not all that common either. This is another fish that is frustrating to photograph, it moves constantly, never quite letting you get close. The only advantage is that it keeps the same territory, making the same circuit, even when bothered by a large, noisy diver with a strobe.

Not a great shot, the fish is not quite sharp and the lighting is poor. Best I have so far, despite several dragon chases. I’ll just have to try again…

Juvenile Rockmover Wrasse
A juvenile rockmover wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus) imitates floating seaweed above the coral

Postcard from the Reef – Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse

A very common fish, endemic to Hawaiian reefs, the pretty cleaner wrasse easily catches your attention with a brilliant neon color scheme. You see these fish nearly every time you get in the water. They are usually found in some cleft in the reef or above a prominent coral head working over another reef fish. They feed on parasites, mucous and dead skin of the other fish. The cleaning services offered by these small wrasse are so popular that there will often be several fish waiting their turn.

While cleaner wrasse are quite pretty they are also infuriatingly difficult to photograph. You can usually get close, they are not overly shy. The problem is that they never stop moving, swimming with an odd, jerky motion in the water. I have long since lost count of the number of blurred photos I have of this fish.

Cleaner Wrasse
A cleaner wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus) in an overhang filled with red sponges and coralline algae

Postcard from the Reef – Cleaner Wrasse

One of the prettiest fish on the reef, and one of the hardest to photograph. The neon colors just beg to be photographed. But these small fish never stop moving, darting rapidly about their post. An exercise in frustration and photos of empty coral…

Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse
Two juvenile Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus)