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Bluecheek butterflyfish

The endemics of the Red Sea

The endemic species

Biologists’ research shows that nearly 20% of the fauna occurring in the Red Sea is endemic – that is, there are species that you would not come across anywhere else. This wealth of individuals that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth is the result of events prior to 5 million years. Then, as the land was rising, the Red Sea separated from the Mediterranean Sea. Naturally endemic species are reef inhabitants – butterflyfish, triggerfish and diademas.

Hippocampus debelius

Hippocampus debelius
Hippocampus debelius

Photo: fishbase.se

Also called a softcoral hippocampus due to the fact that coral reefs are its natural home. It is just 2-3 cm long. The species has been observed only in the Red Sea. It is threatened by progressing development of coastal areas, water pollution and climate change.

 

Bluecheek butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus)

Bluecheek butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus)
Bluecheek butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus)

Photo: synaj.com

Otherwise called masked butterflyfish. Adults reach a size of up to 25 cm. It occurs at a depth of 3-20 m. Its pigment is almost exclusively yellow, it has blue spots in the vicinity of its eyes. It likes to swim in small groups, with a few individuals, near coral reefs. Omnivorous – it feeds with corals, algae and small invertebrates.

 

Bluethroat triggerfish (Sufflamen albicaudatus)

Bluethroat triggerfish (Sufflamen albicaudatus)
Bluethroat triggerfish (Sufflamen albicaudatus)

Photo: wetwebmedia.com

 

Achieves similar body length to bluecheek butterfly. Grey, with a stripe around the gills and the characteristic blue “throat”. It resides at a depth of 2-20 m and does not pose a threat to humans. In the Red Sea, the presence of 13 species of triggerfish has been observed – including  the famous Picasso triggerfish, but only Bluethroat is endemic.

 

Arabian angelfish (Pomacanthus asfur)

Asfur or Arabian Angelfish (Pomacanthus asfur) in Aquarium
Asfur or Arabian Angelfish (Pomacanthus asfur) in Aquarium

Photo: bigcommerce.com

Beautifully pigmented fish, dark blue with a yellow stripe in the shape of half-moon on the side and with a yellow tail. Adults can be up to 40 cm long. The young, in turn, look quite differently: they are steel-blue, with a number of vertical white stripes. This fish inhabits coastal reefs, slots and the mouths of the caves. It is shy which makes it difficult to observe. Arabian angelfish feeds mainly with tunicates and sponges.

 

Diagonal butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus)

Diagonal butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus)
Diagonal butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus)

Photo: wikipedia.org

A species closely related to the bluecheek butterfly. It can be up to 22 cm long. It lives in the vicinity of reefs, it feeds with plankton, small jellyfish and ctenophora. Characteristically colored: a yellow body, varied with stripes.

 

Curtis Walsh

Canadian, cold water lover. His diving adventure began while he was studying at University of Toronto. He did not suppose that diving would ever become anything more than just a passion. He likes especially Norway - fiords, theirs biodiversity and the beauty of Norwegian landscapes. He share his passion with the others working as diving instructor.

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