The fish species found at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are a subset of those you would find elsewhere in the Caribbean. Following are video highlights of various fish species observed in the sanctuary.
Fish Cleaning Station
(video at top of page)
In this video, a Green Moray (Gymnothorax funebris) sits peacefully in a coral den having a "bath." This hideaway has become a cleaning station, a place where a larger fish assumes a none-threatening pose to let smaller fish know that it is safe to approach. In this case, tiny Neon Gobies (Elacatinus oceanops) are allowed to pick dead skin and parasites off the eel's body without the threat of being eaten. This feeds the gobies and helps the eel stay healthy. The purple and gold juvenile Spanish Hogfish (Bodianus rufus) swimming nearby may also serve as cleaner fish, but we don't see them cleaning in this video.
Video Length: 0:20
Green Moray (Gymnothorax funebris)
Green Morays are not that common in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is why this one caught the diver's attention. You are far more likely to see Goldentail (Gymnothorax miliaris) or Spotted Morays (Gymnothorax moringa) in the sanctuary.
This video provides a second angle on the Green Moray in the video above. It begins with the diver zooming in on the eel's den between some large corals. The eel is sitting very quietly inside, calmly opening and closing its mouth to breathe, as several small Neon Gobies (Elacatinus oceanops) work to remove dead skin and parasites.
Video Length: 0:42
Lionfish Survey (Pterois volitans)
Video surveys are an important part of long-term monitoring efforts at East and West Flower Garden Banks. This video, starting from the end of a transect tape (seen laying on the bottom), is a general survey of the reef and all of the lionfish residing there. How many lionfish do you see?
Video Length: 0:51
Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)
The balloonfish, a type of porcupinefish, can inflate its body as a defense against predators. Once inflated, the spines that cover its body stand upright making it too big and spiny to swallow.
Here you see a balloonfish with spines flat against its body, swimming through a "snowstorm" of coral spawn, at night.
Video Length: 0:33
Fishes of the Sanctuary
This video provides a sampling of various fish species seen in the sanctuary:
Schooling jacks; a resting queen parrotfish; a juvenile jack hovering close to a coral head; a barracuda swimming a couple of feet above the bottom; a honeycomb cowfish; a large grouper; a yellowhead jawfish hovering above its den in the sand; two seaweed blennies in a standoff on top of a sponge; a seaweed blenny tucked down in the hole of a sponge; a golden smooth trunkfish swimming just above the bottom; a smooth trunkfish spitting streams of water at the bottom to uncover food; a scrawled filefish swimming nose down near the reef; a marbled grouper swimming in place just above the reef with a scrawled filefish on either side; a yellowmouth grouper staring directly at the camera; a tiger grouper swimming over the reef; a creole wrasse resting under a ledge; and, a small tiger grouper and a queen parrotfish tucked into a crevice in the reef.
Video Length: 2:23
Credit: FGBNMS/Hickerson, Schmahl, DeBose