It was while running my latest underwater video course at Marsa Shagra in the Red Sea that I spotted a very small fish I had never seen before either in the wild or in any identification book.
At the time I was filming with a GoPro which has a fixed lens and is very wide angle. I was near the sandy bottom next to a reef and gently working my way towards a Hawksbill Turtle resting under a small table coral. Just at the edge of my vision I caught the motion of a very small fish fleeing away from me towards the cover of another piece of coral. It could only have been about 3-4cms long. I only had time to press the record button and swing the Gopro in its general direction before it completely disappeared. Look as I may, I could not find it again. I was very excited and hoping it was a new species.
Getting back to base I downloaded the video clip. The fish was there, but just a tiny image in the great expanse of the wide angle GoPro frame. Fortunately the great quality from the GoPo let me zoom in and retrieve a half decent image of the fish. At least good enough for identification.
I showed it to several people at the resort and no one had seen it before. This was now very exciting. It was decided to send the image to a marine biologist friend to see if he had any idea. The message came back. “Hi Jeff, Very nice, we have had this already…. an inquiry from 2010, it’s a juvenile Novaculichthys taeniourus, and like most wrasses it can also dig in the sand”. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed, but it was nice to know what it was.
Then I was told about a Facebook group called ‘ID Please (Marine Creatures Identification)’ should I ever need any help in the future.
In their introduction they say:
“Dear ID Please members,
If you took a photo underwater and don’t know what it is, share your photos here or help other members to identify the creatures on their photos. Please try to provide the following info for your underwater photos:
– country / location
– and other data that you think might help.
– no need to specify camera settings and such.
It’s a great group and one which I joined right away. So if you have any photos of marine creatures you can’t identify or can help others out, why not visit their page.