Back underwater

Familiar colors and textures greeted us back under the sea.  The water temperatures are comfortable (with a full wetsuit) and have been nice and clear.  

Sun anemone

Yellow fanworm

Christamastree worm

Branching anemone

Mat zoanthids

Christmastree hydroids

Social feather dusters

We know these reefs well by now.  Several had already been suffering through disease, and although hurricane Irma did some additional damage, there are still some areas thriving.

Reef fish life is marked by grunts, angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish and squirelfish, with margates and jacks swimming in the periphery. 

Queen triggerfish

Intermediate queen angelfish

Longspine squirrelfish

Jacks, margates & snappers

Juvenile groupers are still abundant as they tail-sit and ponder us awkward humans.

I visited a familiar reef where I had once seen a redspotted hawkfish and was rewarded with another sighting.  

These typically don’t sit still for long so I was lucky that this one struck a pose for me!

Redspotted hawkfish

Anemones are less common then before the hurricane.  When you see then they inevitably house cleaner shrimp.


Spotted cleaner shrimp

Corallimorphs also seem fairly wiped out from their previous patch locations.  

I came across some Florida corallimorphs fighting for space and getting squeezed out by overgrowing mat tunicates.

I went back to a reef where I once spotted a pearl blenny a year ago and was thrilled to find another one hiding in the elkhorn coral skeleton holes.  They are hard to spot, so you either peer into every hole or movement catches your eye.  

See if you can find this one near the middle of the frame...

The pearl blenny is characteristically shy, but I did manage to snap a picture right when he darted out of his hole to head for another hiding place.  This small, combtooth blenny is not very common so I was quite happy to experience another sighting.

While peering into coral holes, I found a new (to me) critter who was even smaller (~1/2 inch) and harder to see… mostly translucent as well!  

See if you can spot this teeny guy in the hole…

My best attempt at identification is a semiscaled goby, but this is subject to further research.  

When stalking him for a little while, I did manage to photograph the goby manning his perch.  

This species also resembles the leopard gobies that were so abundant in Panama waters, yet is not the same based on my experience.

The two white circles on each side are fairly distinctive.  However, the semiscaled goby does not seem have these circles.  

I’ll keep trying to identify this mystery fish… perhaps a new discovery?!  ~Haha~

EDIT:  This fish was confirmed by members as a semi-scaled goby!

© M&M 2019