Category Indo-Pacific – tropical

Butterfly fish


The butterflyfish family is a large and well known group of tropical species. They are mostly of small size with oval-shaped bodies which are deep and greatly compressed. The dorsal fin is continuos along the back and is not divided between the anterior spinous part and the spineless posterior portion. The tail may be rounded, truncated, or emarginated on its posterior border, but is never forked. The head bears a small mouth which contains flexible, brush-like or comb-like teeth. Within this family some members have a sharp spine on the lower back corner of the preopercle. These are true angel fishes, and with the presence of this spine can be distinguished and separated from true Butterfly Fishes, placing them in a separate family, Pomacanthidae.

Butterflyfish a...

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They have traveled the oceans and have outlived the dinosaurs. They have become an integral part of the traditional culture of many coastal indigenous peoples throughout the world. Today, all but one of the species features on the IUCN RED List as endagered or critically endangered. Extinction looms!

There are only a few large nesting populations of the green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles left in the world. Australia has some of the largest marine turtle nesting areas in the Indo-Pacific region and has the only nesting populations of the flatback turtle.

Until fairly recent times, their long presence in the tropical and sub-tropical seas and beaches of the planet seemed set to continue...

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Crown of thorns

Acanthaster planci

Sea stars (group name Stelleroidea), are sometimes called starfish, though lacking both vertebrae and fins, they are not real fish. There are two sub-types of sea stars: Asteroideas are the true sea stars and sun stars, whereas Ophiuroideas are brittle stars and basket stars.

Ophiuroid means ‘snake-like’, referring to the form and motion of the arms. The arms of brittle stars are easily broken off, but will regenerate in a few days to weeks. Sea stars can also regenerate arms that are broken off, but for most species, the central region of the body must remain intact

Class Asteroidea, the true sea stars, contains about 1700 living species of these echinoderms...

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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 non-existence during your dive tells us a lot.

The goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), sometimes called the jewfish is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Found in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 45m, this indicator prefers areas of rock, coral, and mud bottoms...

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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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