Pulau Hatta, Banda Islands
Drifting above the edge of a vertical drop off the radiated from Hatta in the Banda Island, I watched thousands upon thousands of red-tooth triggerfish flapping their fins in the crystal clear water. Hundreds of fish suddenly converged in a tight ball looking as if they were spawning en masse. Upon closer inspection I made out that this wasn’t the case. The triggerfish were not releasing eggs and sperm but feeding on other fish’s gametes as they were released. A pair of bird wrasse had just spawned high in the water column and the triggerfish had immediately gobbled up most, if not all, of the eggs. This happened over and over again as various wrasse species spawned along the reef edge. Spawning behaviors of a variety of fish species were seen throughout the Banda Islands as our recent trip coincided with February’s full moon. But reef fish were merely part of the region’s story as I found the marine invertebrates, and the coral health and diversity in particular, to be equally engaging.-Ethan Daniels
This was our first visit to the Banda Islands and it definitely will not be our last. We look forward to visiting Pulau Hatta again!