One of our friendly Leaf-fish (Taenianotus triacanthus). When I first came to the Maldives in 2007 I remember I spent over a year searching for a leaf-fish in the south Ari Atoll. None of the other staff were finding them either… so I like to think that it wasn’t just me being blind. The first one that I found was a juvenile about an inch long at a well-known dive site named Madivaru. Normally famous for Manta rays, this particular day there were none and the guests were a bit disappointed. Not me though! After that first one, we began seeing them more regularly, so maybe it was simply a case of getting the eye in.
Leaf-fish are part of the scorpionfish family in that they have toxic spines running down the dorsal fin. Like the other scorpionfishes, this is basically a lie-in-wait predator for small fishes and shrimp that get a bit too close. The mouth opens extrememly wide sucking the prey in. My recent Lionfish pictures also show this movement. The skin on Leaf-fishes are not the ‘normal’ scales found on most fish. They molt or change skin about every 2 weeks or so. Perhaps this is due to sitting still for so long- other organisms such as hydroids start to grow on the skin, so perhaps this is a way of getting rid of them.
Laamu Atoll seems to have a disproportionate number of Leaf-fishes- on one section of the House Reef, we’ve counted 6- all within a short distance of each other, and all at a depth of around 6m. We see them regularly on a few other reefs but by contrast, true Scorpionfishes are rare and we’ve seen only one Stonefish- and that was far in the south of the atoll. I’d love to know why this is.
Anyway- I know I’ve photographed this shot many times before…. but this one is completely different- it has a black background This comes from using a very fast shutter speed… and spending a few minutes in Lightroom tidying the edges. Hope you enjoy.