Reef Scorpionfish

Nestled in a crevice we found this timid looking reef scorpionfish. You will notice the black spines of a long-spine urchin hanging over the scorpionfish. These long barbed spines are needle-sharp, just the right protection for a skittish little fish that needs to get some rest.

We tried several times to get a better shot but the reef scorpionfish kept moving around and every time my flash went off he moved to a different spot. You can’t see it but the wall was covered with long-spined urchins and every time I moved in closer the spines would rotate and point toward my hands making for a very unpleasant experience on several occasions.

I have rarely seen a reef scorpionfish that was not using a long-spine urchin for protection. I believe this may be a symbiotic relationship called facultative commensalism, which means that the scorpionfish gets a safe place to rest (smart little bugger) but the long-spine sea urchin receives no benefit from the relationship.

I really like the color and texture of this sponge. Notice the reef scorpionfish in the background.

Tipping Point

Perched precariously upon dead coral the barrel sponge (It may be a leathery barrel sponge) has grown so rapidly that it has overgrown its host. Any unprotected surface on a damaged coral head will permit a sponge to colonize it. This is one reason that dive guides ask us to be careful to not touch or hit live coral with our fins.

Overshadowing the coral the barrel sponge prevents light from reaching it and as boring sponges burrow into it from below they will eventually erode and destroy the whole coral head.