Reef Fish Behavior: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas

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9781878348289: Reef Fish Behavior: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas

A detailed overview of what is presently know about the behavior and ecology of reef fishes inhabiting the waters of Florida, Caribbean and Bahamas. The enjoyable fact-filled text is lavishly illustrated with 475 marine life photos, many capturing spectacular fish behaviors never before documented.

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From the Author:

The information included in the text came from two primary sources - four summers of underwater observation and photography in Bimini, Bahamas and many hours of research in the library at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami. Extended stays in Bonaire, Belize, the Florida Keys and shorter visits to Roatan, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Walker Cay Bahamas, New Providence Island Bahamas, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados rounded out five years of research and regional travel. Video images, recorded by my wife Anna, were used extensively to analyze behavior described in the text. Anecdotal observations gleaned from conversations with fish aficionados in the scientific, marine management, conservation, aquarium and diving fields add insight and spice to an otherwise data-dominated narrative. Entries beginning with "we" were personal observations made by Anna, my partner Paul Humann or me. In the text, I chose to do the following: capitalize common fish and invertebrate names to set them apart from descriptive adjectives; enter a species' scientific name only the first time it appears in a section; and, in all but two instances (the common names of the Fairy Basslet and the Yellowtail Parrotfish), we followed the recommendations of Common and Scientific Names of Fishes published by the American Fisheries Society.

Anna and I thoroughly enjoyed every facet of gathering material for this book but our four extended stays in South Bimini were magical times, when, as John Steinbeck wrote "the world spun in well-greased grooves." While in Bimini we had the luck of living at Wen-Mar - a rustic, thick-walled white concrete cottage built in the 1940s at the very edge of the sea. Our times there revolved around a small, brightly-lit sitting room that faced west toward the Gulf Stream. On clear nights we could see the glow of Miami from the room's glass doors and, while enjoying coffee in the cool of morning, we watched Brown Pelicans dive and Eagle Rays jump in our front yard. Afterwards, I would settle into an ocean-facing futon surrounded by stacks of copied research papers and dog-eared references and read about fishes or hammer away at my laptop until noon.

We dived seven days a week, except during prolonged westerly blows. Our borrowed boat (the Pocahontas, the Blenny or the Big Hellie - depending on the year) invariably pulled away from the dock at one with Capt. Anna at the helm. Thirty-minutes later, we were happily underwater. From among the dozens of excellent dive sites that edge the islands, we consistently returned to the same six. The locations, ranging in depth from 14 to 55 feet, allowed us to observe several different fish communities on a semi-regular basis over extended periods of time. When we were studying new behavior or trying to capture a difficult image, we often returned to the same location daily for weeks. During these periods, when we were "on to something," we worked the hardest, stayed underwater the longest and were the happiest.

Although we observed interesting fish behavior throughout the day, we found fish watching best at sunset when the large predators prowl and many fishes court and spawn. Our most productive dusk dives had a marked tendency to occur on the evenings of the seventh through the ninth day after the full moons of early spring to early summer. Anna carried a Sony 3-chip video camera, and I lugged along a Nikon F 3 with a 60 mm macro lens and a Nikonos III with a 20 mm lens both connected to a single Ikelite Substrobe 200. We typically made three dives each afternoon, the last beginning 45 minutes before sunset and ending with just enough light left on the horizon to help Anna navigate home. Even before showering, we had the day's videotape turning in the VCR and reviewed our afternoon's exploits while sipping rum and taking notes.

When we began our research we had little idea how much, or what, is known about reef fishes. At the Rosenstiel Marine Library, we dived into the journal-packed stacks with the same enthusiasm that kept us underwater for hours on end. We quickly discovered that, unlike terrestrial animals that have been observed and documented for centuries, the study of coral reef animals is in its infancy. With little choice before the birth of Scuba, just a half-century ago, marine biologists based much of their early research on preserved specimens fished from the reef. Their inability to observe the fishes and invertebrates in their natural habitat left large gaps in our understanding of the behavior and ecology of reef animals. Today's diving naturalists, whether scientifically trained or inquisitive amateurs, are pioneers chronicling the last great undocumented natural history on earth. It is an exciting time to be a diver.

Review:

"If you are an inquisitive diver, or an underwater photographer wishing to learn more about where to find and how to photograph your subjects, buy this book." -- Stephen Frink, Underwater Photographer

"Reef Fish Behavior will likely become one of the most important books ever written about the sea for divers." -- David Taylor, editor Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine(appeared in Nov/Dec 1999 issue)

..this is a classic reference that will enhance your appreciation of the complexities of the coral reef. -- Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine

It's the book that we've all been waiting for....it is by far the most informative and engaging collection of marine life observations ever assembled for divers and underwater naturalists. -- Ocean Realm Magazine

We've followed the evolution of their reef fish, creature and coral id books... now we're ready for more and after five years of research, so are DeLoach and Humann. --Sport Diver Magazine

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Ned DeLoach, Paul Humann
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