UNUSUAL /FISH – YELLOW-HEADED JAWFISH (IN WORDPRESS)
WHAT A MOUTHFUL! MALE FISH TAKES ON THE TASK OF PROTECTING ITS EGGS… BY CRAMMING THEM INTO ITS MOUTH
Many fathers might find themselves with their hands full when looking after their children, but this fish has his mouth crammed full with scores of his offspring.
Among yellow-headed jawfish – which are mouthbrooders – it is the male that takes responsibility for looking after the eggs until they hatch.
These incredible images were captured on the sea floor in the ocean off the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean.
Yellow-headed jawfish, which are found on coral reefs in the Caribbean, are typically only seen with their heads and upper bodies protruding from their burrows – although occasionally they can be spied hovering a short distance from their territory.
After noticing the mouthbrooding fish, Dr Allinson, who specialises in underwater and hyperbaric medicine, waited 20 minutes to get a shot of it opening wide to aerate its brood.
Rotating the egg mass in this way keeps them clean and hydrated.
‘The eggs being spit out is a very rare shot,’ Dr Allinson said.
‘I had to spend more than 20 minutes with the fish waiting to get those pictures.
‘The key is to locate a male with eggs in his mouth, then slowly sink to the bottom near the burrow.
‘You have to wait till he starts poking his head out, slowly getting within a foot of the burrow.
‘As he grows comfortable with your presence, he will rise out of his burrow to aerate the eggs.
‘If you are in the right position, you can capture him with the eggs out of his mouth,’ Dr Allinson added.