A bit of a conumdrum

I can’t make up my mind about this little damsel… is she a Maldives Damselfish or a Staghorn Damselfish? Perhaps a Silvered Damselfish?

Damselfish, but which one?

Damselfish, but which one?

Yes Usky has yet another sub-species identification conundrum.

Unidentified Damselfish

Unidentified Damselfish

It’s a good job I’m not stressed about this isn’t it? Otherwise I could be mistaken for a damsel-in-distress! :lol:

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What shade is your lipstick?

Juvenile Naso 'Lipstick' Tang

Juvenile Naso ‘Lipstick’ Tang

The naso tang, commonly known as the Orangespine Unicornfish, or Lipstick Tang, is a Pacific species native from Hawai’i southward to central Polynesia, westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa.

The body of this fish is light to dark gray. It has a patch of bright yellow on the forehead with an yellow accented line that extends from below the eye down to behind the mouth. The body of the fish darkens with maturity and males grow ‘streamers’. The above image of a juvenile naso tang.

So when I spotted what I thought was an adult naso tang swimming along a Red Sea reef I started getting really excited because my first thought was ‘this fish shouldn’t be here!’

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Turns out the fish wasn’t a naso tang, but a naso elegans: common names include Elegant Unicornfish, Orangespine Unicornfish, Lipstick Surgeonfish, Indian orange-spine Unicorn, Smoothheaded Unicornfish.

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Identifying fish species can be a bit of a nightmare as mistakes can be easily made. I thought for a short while I’d found a fish well out of place while swimming in the Red Sea, but sadly for me a little research has highlighted my mistake.

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Right or wrong identification it is still a beautiful fish don’t you think? So what shade of lipstick is your favourite?

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Observing the observer

It amused me while I was swimming in the Red Sea to find myself being watched almost as closely as I was watching the fish swimming around me on the reef. In this particular instance the observer was a Parrotfish.

Parrot Fish

Parrotfish

Parrotfish get their name from their mouth parts, which resemble a parrot’s beak and are used to graze algae from the living coral. There are around 90 species of these brightly coloured fish some of which, like the one photographed here, are extremely inquisitive and are not shy when it comes to approaching ‘foreign’ objects floating around their environment.

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Spring is sprung

A kid’s rhyme we used to use (and abuse) when I was a sprog and I bet you know it…

Spring has sprung,
The grass has ris,
I wonder where the flowers is?

Well let me tell you there are plenty of Spring flowers turning their little faces to the sun in the places where I walk Tilly. Just look at these:

These were grabbed with my mobile ‘phone, so maybe not the best quality but certainly good enough to suggest a walk in the countryside for other wild flower lovers. :)

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Up close and personal

In my last post I spoke about ‘swimming with the masses‘ on the local reef at Sharm el Sheik. Here’s another example of the type of fish who are more than happy to swim with/around visitors.

Zebrasoma desjardinii - Desjardin's Sailfin Tang

Zebrasoma desjardinii – Desjardin’s Sailfin Tang

These are one of several species of Sailfin Tang common in the Red Sea. This particular type is known as Desjardin’s Sailfin Tang and yes they really were so close the fish on the right brushed my face as it swam past. I guess it could be a little off-putting to some to be ‘mugged’ by a shoal of fish, but I loved it and can’t wait to repeat the experience.

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Among the masses

Swimming in the bay from the beach in front of the Iberotel Palace in Sharm el Sheik is a pretty boring experience, which can be made far more interesting by either walking or taking the hotel’s courtesy boat to the reef that runs along the left hand side of the bay (the recommended safe swimming area is marked in red on the image below).

The bay at Sharm el Sheik

The bay at Sharm el Sheik

Walking around to the reef takes approximately 10 minutes, but does mean crossing several ‘private’ beach sections and manoeuvring around a couple of fences. The hotel’s courtesy boat runs regularly and makes the crossing to the small jetty to the left of the red marked area in around 5 minutes.

The recommended safe swimming area

The recommended safe swimming area

The abundance of marine life is apparent as soon as you enter the water and progress along the reef. I lost count of the number of species on display here, but these little guys literally wait to mob swimmers as they take the plunge.

Scissortail Sergent (Abudefduf Sexfasciatus)

Scissortail Sergeant
(Abudefduf Sexfasciatus)

For the most part these are scissortail sergeant fish (the silver and black stripy ones) with black butterfly fish.

Black Butterfly and Scissortail Sergeant fish

Black Butterfly and Scissortail Sergeant fish

You’ll find numerous other types here, but these guys will swim with you in ‘convoy’ forming your own private shoal as you explore the denizens of the reef.

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Brilliance beneath the waves

Many people fall in love with the brightly coloured fish found swimming in the warm waters of the Red Sea, but in truth there are just as many wonderful colours to be seen among the varieties of coral and molluscs on view. Take this stunning blue clam for instance:

Blue Clam

Blue Clam

These are abundant on the reef and come in all sizes… you wouldn’t want to put your fingers too near the bigger ones, believe me!

Then there are the worms… several varieties and no idea what they are called, but some of them, like these tiny feathery orange ones, are very pretty too:

Orange worms

Orange worms

These really are very small and grow among the corals. If you get too close they shoot backwards into their burrow, so just the one (not very good) shot of the little chaps.

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Lionfish

Genus Pterois, the lionfish is a venomous marine fish sometimes known as zebrafish, firefish, turkeyfish or butterfly-cod is characterized by conspicuous warning coloration with red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins, and venomous spiky fin rays. The Lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific.

This particular example was caught on camera in approx. 8 metres off Tiran Island in the Red Sea with an Olympus Stylus TG-3 tough compact.

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

Genus Pterois: Lionfish

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Recipe for cannibalism and rampant sex

There once was a ghost name of Marley
Who tormented Scrooge most unfairly,
Ebenezer did boast
“I’ll do for that ghost
And stew Marley’s bones with some barley!”

Sound good to you? Why not give it a try? Just follow the recipe given below. 

Ingredients:

Marley’s corpse, de-fleshed
4 large onions
2 garlic bulbs
lb carrots
2 lb potatoes
lb pearl barley
4 quarts Virgin Mary stock (if you can’t find a virgin name of Mary you could substitute beef, chicken or pork stock – your choice)

Method:

Peel and chop onions and sweat in a little coconut oil in a large Dutch Oven over an open wood fire until translucent. If you don’t own a Dutch Oven you can use a cauldron, large zinc bucket, or empty oil drum.

Bash garlic bulbs between two large stones and drop into pot to fry lightly with the onions. (Not the stones you idiot!)

Stir in about half the stock and add Marley’s bones. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer by removing some of the wood from the fire: make sure not to burn your pinkies on the charred bits. Meanwhile peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into one inch cubes (that’s a bit bigger than an adult eyeball), then add to the broth.

Pour in enough of the remaining stock to completely cover the contents of the pot, cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally while picking your nose and scratching your ass.

Add the pearl barley and stir in the remaining stock with a big stick, cover and simmer for a further hour ensuring the barley doesn’t stick to your bottom.

Fish out the bones and ladle the stew into scooped out gorilla skulls. Serve with sweetbreads (those are bits of guts, NOT bloody croissants or Danish pastries!).

Note:

This excellent dish is best when shared so make sure to invite the town floozy to join you for an evening’s eating, drinking and rampant sex.

cannibal cartoon

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