Life in seagrass meadows

There are actually quite a number of animals that live most of their life in the seagrass meadows. And it took me quite a while to notice just how many …

– One of the biggest problem (at least to me) was that many of the fish are so pale or white in color, that it is hard to tell what species they are. You basically have to judge it by the shape. But there are a few that stand out: e.g. the Fivefinger razorfish (Iniistius pentadactylus). It is easy to recognize on the dots behind the eyes. The Fivefinger razorfish is easy to scare, so it keeps a distance, and if go close – it disappears in front of your eyes! – It is able to dive into the sand very fast so that you cannot see it at all. It does the same thing at night to sleep safely.

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Some of the pufferfish may also be found in the seagrass (see e.g. the Whitespotted puffer in the Along the wall section of the book). In the Red Sea there is a species that you will only find in the seagrass area – the Seagrass puffer (Arothron immaculatus), and as all the other pufferfish it is able to increase size and look like a balloon within a few seconds by drawing in water. In the images above it is inflated, as it felt threatened when I approached it to take a picture.

The Darkspotted stingray is often busy searching for animals in the sand. They have a very sensitive electric sense, and are able to pick up the slight bioelectric field of the animals underneath. So, when it stops to dig into the sand it is not a random try – but a deliberate attempt to catch a prey. When it starts digging other smaller animals may reveal themselves, and other fish species takes advantage of that by following the Darkspotted stingray. You often see trevallies, Smooth cornetfish (as in the above image) or other fish above or near the ray.

It is not all invertebrates that hide in the sand, and you may see e.g. snails (such as the nudibranch above), sea urchins or sea cucumbers.

In some areas you may be lucky to find dugong or Green turtle in the seagrass areas.