Sergeant Major [Abudefduf saxatilis]

The Sergeant Major or pĂ­ntano (Abudefduf saxatilis, family Pomacentridae) is a large, colourful damselfish. It earns its name from its brightly striped sides, which are reminiscent of the insignia of a military Sergeant Major. It grows to a length of about 15cm (6 inches).

The fish feed upon the larvae of invertebrates, zooplankton, smaller fish, crustaceans and various species of algae. They are preyed upon by some members of the Labridae and Serranidae families. They lay their eggs in patches on a firm substrate and guard them vigorously until they hatch.

Sergeant majors are found throughout the tropical reaches of the Atlantic, including off the south coast of the United States, Central America, eastern South America and western Africa. They are often found on coral reefs at depths of between 1 and 12 meters. (text source: wikipedia)

Picture1: Utila, Honduras, picture2: Red Sea, Egypt by Sami Salmenkivi

Black grouper [Mycteroperca bonaci]

The black grouper, Mycteroperca bonaci, is one of the best known of the large group of Perciform fish called groupers. The black grouper is a large marine fish, growing up to 150 centimetres in length and 100 kilograms in weight. It has an olive or gray body, with black blotches and brassy spots. The preopercle is gently rounded. It is associated with rocky or coral reefs but is not dependent on them; it is found in the Western Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts, USA, in the north to southern Brazil, but is particularly associated with the southern Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Adults are not found at the northern extremes of its range. It lives mostly near the surface, at depths ranging from 6 to 33 meters.

The black grouper is quite tasty and an important food fish, is fished for sale but also for sea-angling. While not currently considered endangered, it is vulnerable to increases in exploitation because it is a relatively slow breeder. The black grouper is a solitary fish. Adults feed mainly on other fish and squid, though the younger fish feed on crustaceans especially shrimps.

The fish spawns between May and August. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, i.e. the young are predominantly female but transform into males as they grow larger. There are other fish that are sometimes called “black groupers”. These include the similar gag grouper, Mycteroperca microlepis, the misty grouper Epinephelus mystacinus, and the critically endangered Warsaw grouper Epinephelus nigritus.

Picture: Cozumel, Mexico by Sami Salmenkivi

Spotted moray [Gymnothorax moringa]

The spotted moray, Gymnothorax moringa, is a typical medium-sized moray eel. It has a long snake-like body, white or pale yellow in color with small overlapping dark-brown spots. It can grow to over a meter in length and weigh up to 2.5 kg.

The spotted moray is found in the Western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina and Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. It is also found around Mid- and Eastern Atlantic islands as far south as St Helena. It prefers shallow water (up to 200 m in depth) with a rocky or grassy bottom.

Spotted morays are solitary animals, and are usually seen in holes, with only the head protruding. They are active during the day, feeding at the sea bottom on crustaceans and other fish. Their bite can be dangerous to humans. There is a minor fishery for them, and they have even been kept as aquarium fish, though they grow too large for this to be practicable in most circumstances. (text source: wikipedia)

Picture: Cozumel, Mexico by Sami Salmenkivi

Green moray [Gymnothorax funebris]

The green moray, Gymnothorax funebris, is a moray eel of the family Muraenidae, found in the western Atlantic from New Jersey, Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil, at depths down to 40 m. Its length is up to 2.5 m.

The green moray is a very large moray, uniformly dark green to brown. It is a benthic and solitary species occurring along rocky shorelines, reefs, and mangroves, usually found shallower than 30 m. Due to its large size and aggressiveness, the bites of this moray are particularly dangerous. It feeds mainly at night on fish and crustaceans. It is marketed fresh and salted, although large individuals are cigua-toxic. (text source: wikipedia)

Picture: Roatan, Honduras by Sami Salmenkivi

Scrawled filefish [Aluterus scriptus]

The scrawled filefish, Aluterus scriptus, is a filefish of the family Monacanthidae. Its length is up to 1.1 m, and it is found on tropical reefs circumglobally to a depth of 120 m.

Coloration is olive brown to grey with blue lines and spots, while juveniles may be yellowish-brown with dark spots. The body and head has a scattered of small black spots. The body is elongate and strongly compressed. The caudal fin is rounded and long. The gill opening is oblique.

The scrawled filefish inhabits lagoons and seaward reefs, and occasionally are seen under floating objects. Juveniles may travel with weed rafts in the open ocean for a long time and reaching a large size. Adults are usually seen along deep coastal slopes or outer reef drop-offs in about 20 m depth. They feed on algae, seagrass, hydrozoans, gorgonians, colonial anemones, and tunicates.

Picture: Cozumel, Mexico by Sami Salmenkivi