National Geographic : 1922 Jan
CERTAIN CITIZENS OF THE WARM SEA It is not known where they retired until their numbers became strengthened, but the fact remains that this valuable food fish is back again in normal numbers. Among the coral reefs off Florida one frequently sees millions of the fry of some pelagic or surface swimming offshore species taking shelter in and about the skeleton ribs and plates of a wreck resting on the ocean bottom, yet easily discern ible in the clear southern waters, which offers a harbor for a considerable num ber seeking safety. Not only does the structure of the abandoned ship provide hiding places, but the grouper family, which makes the wreck a regular habitat, acts as a guard for the smaller fish against their arch enemies, the jacks and yellow tails, which are in turn sought by the groupers as food. The fry thus fre quently remain unmolested, as they are too small to make food for the groupers. When the fry move from place to place, they usually do so at dusk or through the night, and then on the sur face of the sea, where they find their prin cipal food-plankton, the weak floating organisms, and nekton, the actively swim ming animal life-which is more plentiful on the surface after the sun's rays are lessened. A PARADOX OF PROTECTION Many fishes of the-lwarm seas are chameleon-like in'their coloration and take on the color and hue of their sur roundings for protection, while others seek the holes and crevices into which the pursuing fish is unable to follow. Some fishes, to protect their young, carry their eggs in their mouths. Nature has so taken care of other species that they are hermaphrodite. Others live in the gill cavities of a greater ,ish. Some species of the sucking fish, as :an illustra tion, utilize the gill cavities of larger fishes, such as the mola, or giant sunfish, and the sailfish, for this purpose. Many live in other marine animals. The amia, for instance, lives with the animal in the large West Indian conch (Strombus gigantus), whose spiral shell so beautifully tinted on the inside was frequently used as a fireplace ornament a generation ago. While there finding pro tection, this little fish carries its eggs in A TARPON WEIGHING 158 POUNDS, TAKEN IN FLORIDA WATERS BY MR. ALFRED SANFORD The tarpon was one of the earliest of the large fishes for which sportsmen angled. Con sequently it has been extensively advertised, and therefore is the most widely known of the sea fighters.