So these little fish are more amazing than I ever knew. They live amongst anemone tentacles protected by a layer of mucous that covers their body. This symbiotic relationship means that clownfish are protected from predators, and get left over scraps of food from the anemone. In exchange the clownfish drive off intruders and keep the anemone clean of parasites. Interestingly all clownfish are born male, but the largest clownfish in a group is female. If she dies, her mate increases in size and transforms into a female and subsequently mates with the next largest male. It is thought that because adult clownfish rarely stray from their homes, this evolutionary trait ensures that there is always a female and a male in the small group.
Watching clownfish swimming amongst a brightly colored anemone has always been a magical moment of any snorkeling trip for me. This photo actually has three of them, with the two smaller ones safely hiding amongst the stinging tentacles of their home, whilst the leader boldly sizes me up. Its very cute to watch, and always brings a big smile to my face (which usually means my mask fills with water and I momentarily drown). Common clownfish are seen in warmer tropical waters ranging from eastern Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia. The fish in this photo call the waters around Malaysia their home. They are such a beautiful sight to see, that I get so very disappointed and angry to hear that their numbers are decreasing due to the demand of the pet trade. I can imagine for some, that it might seem nice to watch them swimming in a tank in your home, but isn’t it so much more exciting to spot them happily swimming in their home in the ocean?
I love snorkeling. Mostly because the ocean floor feels like a completely foreign world, with so many interesting landscapes and weird creatures to explore. Every reef I’ve been to is quite different and unique in its corals and wildlife. Even the same reef can look different every time you look at it, with new creatures every day. Sometimes I feel as though the creatures are watching me as much as I am watching them, looking at me like I’m out of place. Large schools of fish will cluster around you, or swim past you like a large shimmering wall, wondering what you are. They give you just enough space, so that you could not catch them if you are a predator. Smaller fish, which live in soft corals and anemones are very defensive about their little garden. They will face you, and even get a bit aggressive if you get too close. I give them plenty of space in the hope that they know I am just there to watch. Its a truly fascinating world, and I hope to see much more of it in future explorations.