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A day in the life of a bridled monocle bream

By 3 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands



A day in the life of a bridled monocle bream. The bridled monocle bream is a fish we see on Caqalai house reef possibly more than any other fish with the possible exception of lined bristle tooth surgeon fish. Due to my apparently thick Australian accent the phrase ‘bridled monocle bream’ sounds pretty ‘epic’, and it became a bit of a joke on the base. It first came up when I first gave fish point outs to newer volunteers, a sign that I have learned all the fish species to a high level and I was really proud to be doing it. Me and another volunteer Cal were particularly excited about going on my first fish point out, even though it was just a snorkel and it was raining pretty heavily, but it still turned out to be loads of fun. Later on other snorkels I realised just how much there really was just off the beach on Caqalai, its hard to miss the spade fish hanging out at the biorock or the size estimation ropes, schools of cuttle fish can also be found and two titan fish which are also great fun to see and one time on a house reef dive I saw a free swimming octopus, which was particularly wananavu (amazing). It becomes apparent after a while on the island that you really are never more that 100m away from something that would probably totally blow your mind.

Going out on dives every day really has opened my eyes to a new world I really had no idea existed. I had snorkelled before but I still had no idea what was really under the surface of the sea. On my first deep dive what really amazed me was the underwater topography. I had never imagined that there would be such undulating underwater landscapes that truly defy imagination. Drifting across a massive wall at 20m deep is a seriously amazing feeling and gave a true sense of weightlessness. Seeing pinnacles that would simply not structurally support themselves above water is such an amazing sight; on its own it can take your breath away (not so much fun underwater) let alone with the cacophony of marine life all around. The more I learn about what is under the water the more crazy it all seems, sometimes I really just can’t believe what I’m seeing. The underwater world really may as well be another planet. Now that my mind is open to it I can’t believe what I was previously taking for granted. Anyone reading this should look into species of Nudibranch of which there are over 2000, they are otherworldly, and just beyond comprehension, most marine life is. After being in the water for a while you realise how little we know about it all. I am constantly amazed by what I see underwater. Having an opportunity like this to not only immerse myself in the marine environment and to study it and learn more about it all the time, is easily one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

I had seen footage of octopuses camouflaging into coral reefs before, I had been totally amazed by how well they could camouflage by not only modifying the colour of their bodies in extreme contrasts, but also the shape and texture of there bodies which they can almost effortlessly manipulate. Seeing it in real life was an experience I will never forget. When I saw the octopus it was swimming in open water, it hid when it saw us using its camouflage but continued to investigate us, then swam off to hide deep in a rock. I had some free time after my fish survey was done so I waited outside the hole, soon the octopus slowly floated up fully out of the hole, out into open water I could see its full length, which was probably as long as my arm and it just stared at me, stayed as long as my air allowed, just chillin’ with an octopus. Then I had to go so I decided to test how confident this octopus was in my behaviour, after all it was clearly investigating me as much I it. I swam closer making no effort not to startle it, and it didn’t move, even when my face was within its tentacle reach it did not move, it could have gone in any direction but it didn’t even alter its colour to hide from me. Never before have I been so fully acknowledged by a wild animal, pretty cool.