After being away from the Caribbean for 20 years, I was incredibly excited for the return. Ironically it would be to Belize, the last place I had been in the Caribbean prior to moving the Indo West Pacific. Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesomaerican Barrier Reef (or Mayan Barrier Reef). My personal goal for the trip was to see the variety of colorful and amazing juvenile reef fishes, especially from the angelfishes, damselfishes, and the highlight, a juvenile spotted drum that can be found in the Caribbean Sea.

It is not exactly clear as to why many juvenile reef fish possess gaudy colors, patterns, or shapes. Perhaps it is a form of aposematic coloration, where the bright colors serve as warning to all predators that the potential prey item may be toxic. Or it could be some sort of camouflage, or simply a phenotypic display as a function of some other type of genetic combination that codes for a specific behavior. No matter the case, the end result for us is the chance to see rarer and more colorful versions of common reef fishes that we are excited to see on any given Caribbean reef.

Adult spotted drum photographed in Belize

Spotted drums…

Juvenile spotted drum photographed in Belize

Juvenile spotted drums…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A colorful rock beauty photographed in Belize

Adult rock beauties…

Juvenile rock beauty photographed in Belize

Juvenile rock beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult blue tang photographed in Belize

Adult blue tangs…

Juvenile blue tang photographed in Belize

Juvenile blue tangs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yellowtail damselfish photographed in Belize

Adult yellowtail damselfish…

juvenile yellowtail damselfish photographed in Belize

Juvenile yellowtail…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

adult french angelfish photographed in Belize

Adult French angelfish

Semi-adult french angelifish photographed in Belize

Semi-adult french…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be visiting Belize again in 2018! I am already excited to see many more of the juvenile fishes of the Caribbean.

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