Where have the anemone fish gone?

We’ve dived the same dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef regularly for the past 14 years.  Over the years we have seen and experienced many beautiful and remarkable events.  We are still seeing and experiencing many beautiful and amazing sights, that’s why we keep going back.  However, we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit to seeing changes.  One of these changes is the scarcity of anemonefish.  In the past, over a four-day trip we would regularly see at least 5 species of anemonefish.  Sadly, this time we only saw two, the pink anemonefish and the spine-cheek anemonefish.

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Pink Anemonefish, early morning dive.  

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Spine-cheek Anemonefish.

The Missing

Juvenile anemonefish hatch from eggs laid under the edge of the anemone and are swept away from their parents’ anemone by ocean currents.  These young fish then navigate towards coral reefs using sound waves, where they are likely to find a new anemone home.  Rising ocean acidification (an impact of greenhouse gas emissions) retards the formation of their otoliths (ear bones), affecting their ability to navigate toward loud, clicking, crackling healthy reefs and, ultimately, threatening their chance of survival.

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Black anemone fish, Great Barrier Reef

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Clark’s anemone fish, Great Barrier Reef

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Clown anemonefish, Great Barrier Reef

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