Category America South – Pacific coast – sub tropical


Lutjanus spp.

The snappers are a large and diverse group of robustbodied, carnivorous fishes. Most species possess relatively large mouths with stout canine teeth and bodies covered with relatively large, coarse scales. They are frequently brightly coloured. They are demersal (spending most time swimming close to the sea bed) in some cases down to 450m and are found in the tropical and sub topical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are over one hundred individual species globally, but within the Pacific Coast Sub-tropical eco region there are only a limited number of species that you are likely to see at diving depth, and these will tend to be in the warmer waters of the region.

There are over one hundred individual species globally, but within the Pacific ...

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Haliotis spp.

Abalones are slow-growing, herbivorous marine snails. They belong to a large class of molluscs (Gastropoda) with singlestructured shells. There are over 100 species worldwide in the single genus Haliotis, which means ‘sea ear’, a reflection of the flattened shape of the shell. It is no surprise then that it is called ‘Oreille de Mer’ in France. Abalone shells can be oval or rounded, with a row of respiratory pores and large dome towards one end.

The strong, muscular foot generates enough suction to allow the abalone to fix itself firmly to rocky surfaces. They are found from the inter-tidal to the depth limit of marine plants, some 80 -100m, from tropical to cold waters.

The related endemic Chilean Abalone or ‘Loco’ (Concholepas concholepas) is from a different gastropod fami...

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Rock and reef lobsters

Lobsters have recently suffered a dramatic demographic decline; entire populations have been annihilated by intensive fishing, especially where tourism abounds. The diversity of lobsters, molluscs and shrimp is low in the region, with perhaps less than ten species of lobster to be found. However there are two endemic species of lobster, the Juan Fernandez rock lobster (Jasus frontalis) and the Chilean jagged or spiny lobster (Projasus bahamondei).

The Chilean jagged lobster, is generally not commercially exploited, but is frequently landed as bycatch. Other lobsters to be found will include the squat lobster (Pleuroncodes monodon) and Palinuras spp...

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When people talk about coral reefs, fishermen tend to shrug their shoulders and complain about snagged lines and torn nets. But when you talk about groupers, they suddenly sit up and pay attention. Groupers are among the economically most important fishes of the coral reef, because of their popularity as food. Yet without the coral reef there would probably be no groupers.

For this reason, groupers are an extremely important indicator species and your record of their existence or nonexistence during your dive tells us a lot. Like all indicators, it is valuable if you can record the particular species you sight. However, recording the total number of groupers is just as important...

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Identifying sharks in the wild is a great challenge! While scientists can spend weeks examining every detail of a species, divers may encounter a shark for only a few seconds or minutes. Many species look alike and one individual may not be identical to the next. There are, however, relatively few species in any one specific dive site and with some preparation and a little practice it is possible for all of us to recognise the more common and distinctive species. The key to successful shark identification underwater is a process of elimination, based on a mental checklist of the main features to look for in every animal encountered. One feature alone is rarely enough for a positive identification, so gather as much information as you can before drawing firm conclusions.

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