One of the most popular outfits yesterday, especially for the very little ones, was a clown costume. Now the British seem to think that all Halloween costumes need to be scary, but in American tradition (the culture which turned the holiday into a blockbuster event), really any sort of fancy dress is appropriate. Mind you, some people consider clowns to be pretty scary. Not the clown fish in the Maldives waters. In fact, they dress themselves up all year round in anemone attire in their symbiotic defence mechanism.
These anemone occupants may also appear to be masquerading as a famous Disney character as well, but regular readers of Maldives Complete will spot the differences.
Of all the seascape photoshoots, this underwater duo is probably the most popular. Both the host background and the sequestered Nemo cousins radiate with vibrant colour. Here is a collection of some of the back I have come across. An amphitheatre of Amphiprion fishionistas…
Question: For those who have been paying attention this past week, what is this a picture of?
Answer: Now that is a Nemo fish! I know because it has the three white stripes!
[Soundeffect]: Buzzzz! Wrong. Actually, the Maldive species ‘Amphiprion clarkii’ has three white stripes when they are young, but as they mature they turn a dark-brown/blackish colour.
Whatever you want to call them, one of the best places to see Anemonefish is Four Seasons Landaa Giravaru. Not just Anemonefish in general, but specifically the babies as their Marine Discovery Center has a breeding research project underway. One downside to the popularity of the Disney film is the popularity of capturing ‘Nemo’ fish for fish tanks. Landaa hopes to be able to improve breeding knowledge to both stock the ocean and to provide an alternative source of supply for fish tanks so they won’t be hunted from the reefs.
If you thought that Anemonefish were cute, the babies are all more the cuter. I couldn’t get my wife out of the Center she was so entranced watching them dart in and out of their host anemones in an incessant tease of pseudo-hide-and-seek. And not just the anemonefish, but the anemones themselves provided a bit of action. You could see them in all different positions all over the tanks. Resident marine biologist Harry Masefield (see photo below) explained that the anemones were quite active and often tried to escape from the tanks by crawling out the top and so they had to devise all sorts of guards. With their swaying tendril-like arms they seem more like colourful vegetation than the quite animated animals that they are.
In honour of Stephen Fry’s brilliant QI (short for ‘Quite Interesting’) TV comedy quiz show returning to BBC this weekend, we feature a couple of Maldives QI questions of our own…
Question: What common, colourful fish in the Maldives is this a picture of?
Answer #1: A ‘Nemo’ Fish.?
[Sound effect]: Buzzzz! Wrong. The character ‘Nemo’ in Disney’s film ‘Finding Nemo’ had three white stripes as a opposed to the single one shown above.
Answer #2: A Clown Fish.
[Soundeffect]: Buzzzz! Wrong. You are close in that the term ‘clown fish’ is often applied to all members of the family of ‘Anemonefish’, but not all Anemonefish are really clown fish including this specimen.
Anemonefish are from the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae and only one specific species of Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris, is actually designated the ‘Clown Anemonefish’. The fish shown at top is really a ‘Amphiprion nigripes’, also known as a ‘Maldive anemonefish’. With its cousin ‘Amphiprion clarkii’ (also known as ‘Clark’s anemonefish’ or the ‘Yellowtail clownfish’), they are the two species of Anemonefish (out of 27 that exist worldwide) found in the Maldive waters.
As it happens, a number of Anemonfish have also been dubbed ‘Clownfish’ in their informal names such as Amphiprion perideraion (Pink skunk clownfish) and the Amphiprion melanopus (Fire or Cinnamon clownfish) as well as obviously ‘Clark’s which I said is known as the ‘Yellowtail Clownfish’. But not this species here. Even Wikipedia describes the terms ‘Clownfish’ and ‘Anemonefish’ as interchangeable, but now you know the real distinctions.
Thanks to Sarah Kompatscher, Marine Biologist at Anantara, and Verena Wiesbauer Ali, Marine Biologist for Kurumba.
Proper ‘Nemo’ or ‘Clown Anemonefish’