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Digital Calendar photo description


Colourful Coral on Mushroom Rocks


While diving deep at Sodwana Bay in Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa on a reef called 7-mile, the diver glided over a set of rock and coral structures called mushroom rocks. The tops of these rocks are elevated into the current and so coral is exposed to continuous ocean current bringing nutrient rich water to them for feeding. Goldies and other reef fish hang in the current’s eddies for a rest or cleaning by smaller reef residents which flit about devouring dead skin and parasitic growths off their flanks. At the end of the dive a diver can be seen beginning the ascent in the background.

Goldies  -  Pseudanthias squamipinnis

Thistle Coral  -  Dendronepthia

This sea Goldie and certain corals show marked sexual dimorphism which means having two different distinct forms of individuals within the same species or two different distinct forms of parts within the same organism. For plants, it could refer to different leaf types, flowers, etc. For animals, it could refer to different colouring, sizes, features, etc. Sexual dimorphism is a common case, where the two sexes have different shapes, sizes, etc. from each other.

The female Goldie grows to a length of up to 7 cm. It is orange/gold in colour with a violet streak below the eye. The male grows up to 15 cm. It has a fuchsia colour with an elongated third ray of the dorsal fin, a red patch on the pectoral fin and elongated margins of the tail. Like other Anthias (Anthiinae) the sea Goldie is a protogynous hermaphrodite. The male retains a harem of five to ten females, but when the male dies, one of the females will undergo sex reversal and take the place of the missing male.

Nikon D300,  Nikkor 10.5 mm,  f2.8G fisheye lens,  1/80th sec @ f10,   ISO 200

Photograph by Andrew Woodburn


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