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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sea Things #5: Blue Tangs

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

From Belize 2008 Underwater (sized)

Sometimes, you'll be diving.  Just swimming along, you know?   And suddenly, there's this big throng of fish, like this huge cloud of fish swimming your way, looking all crazy-like, eating on things and just parading through the reef.  If they're blue, it is probably a school of Blue Tangs feeding.  Sometimes, there are other fish with them, who I guess want to be included in the feeding frenzy.  It happens.

Blue Tangs, at least in the Caribbean, are Acanthurus coeruleus.  They feed on algae in large groups, and it's always a cool sight.  You may hear them called other things - surgeonfish, doctor fish, blue doctors, and more.  I call them Blue Tangs.  The are in fact blue, and they have a yellow mark on the base of their tails.  They mate at dusk, so on a dusk dive you can frequently see them turn almost white, which is typical for when they are mating.  When they mate, they hook up together and rush to the surface, which is when they release eggs and sperm.  Sexy, yes?  Interestingly, the juvenile Blue Tangs aren't blue at all - they're yellow.

That I know of, there isn't a hand signal for Blue Tang.  They're sort of common - you see them all over the place, so I can't imagine anyone pointing one out unless it's part of a big school.  And then you just point towards the big school, as they're hard to miss.

Take note that while Dori from Finding Nemo is a type of fish often referred to as a Blue Tang, she was not this type of Blue Tang that I'm reffering to here.  Dori's species is more commonly referred to as a Regal Tang, and is a Pacific fish (hence, I've never seen one while diving).  I'm not sure whether the Atlantic Blue Tangs suffer from short term memory loss or not.

From Belize 2008 Underwater (sized)
Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it.

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1 comment:

Lance said...

I love tangs. They are very territorial in a tank and you can generally only have one. Did you know that all tangs have that little (often colorful) thorn right between their tailfin and their body. They can slap their enemies with it. Yellow Tangs from hawaii are cool, as are the Regal or "Hippo" Tangs you mentioned. But for my favorite is the Naso or unicorn tang. Great photos.

Love your blog and the occasional fish posts!

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