Photo of the Week – Arc-eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)

Keeping watch over its domain, this weeks Photo of the Week is an Arc-eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus), also know as a Ring-eye Hawkfish, sitting on Acropora palifera coral at Agincourt Reef.

Lacking a swim bladder, they can be found perching on high vantage points on coral reefs throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans. Their large pectoral fins are skinless, which also allows them to perch on fire corals without being stung.

Opportunistic carnivores feeding mainly on shrimps, small fish, crabs, and other crustaceans, the Arc-eye Hawkfish will make a quick dash from its lookout to seize prey when it ventures close enough.

Arc-eye or Ring-eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)Arc-eye or Ring-eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)

All 32 species of hawkfish are tropical. Most are 7-15 cm in length, but certain species can grow up to 60 cm and 4kg in weight.

Most species are solitary, but some will form pairs and share the coral perch. Some species form harems of up to seven females dominated by a larger male. In this group environment, one of the females will change into a male if the dominant male dies.

Even though they are territorial and aggressive to other fish, they can be difficult to photograph, swimming off rapidly when approached by divers.

In December last year I managed to take a photo of a  Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri) also known as a Fosters or Freckled Hawkfish.

Blackside, fosters or freckled Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)Blackside, Fosters or Freckled Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)

The Blackside Hawkfish can change colour several times over a lifetime, but its freckles will stay constant.

Both photos are part of my Great Barrier Reef Images project, and were taken while diving Agincourt Reef on the Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver’s Silversonic in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

For further information on Hawkfish:-

Carl Chapman

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