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tubino

Not ID but behavior: Spotted Snake Eel with Spanish Hogfish

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On a recent trip to Bonaire I was lucky enough to catch a sailfin blenny doing some dramatic displays. As I waited I would take glances over at a spotted snake eel, whose head stuck out of the sand. More than once I saw a Spanish Hogfish swim in a very tight circle around the eel's head, brushing against the eel. I took a few snaps. As the pictures show, the fish was stirring up some sand as it made its passes. Has anyone seen that before, and if this happens regularly, does anyone know why it happens? Sorry if this is out of place here -- I don't know of a better forum, but would be happy to learn of one.

 

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Snake eels often have cleaner shrimp perching on them. I wonder if the hogfish needed grooming & was hoping there was one in the vicinity.

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Snake eels often have cleaner shrimp perching on them. I wonder if the hogfish needed grooming & was hoping there was one in the vicinity.

 

That sounds like a good explanation, the turbulence created by the hogfish could dislodge a cleaner shrimp from the eel.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

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That sounds like a good explanation, the turbulence created by the hogfish could dislodge a cleaner shrimp from the eel.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

 

That's an interesting thought, but I think it would mean the hogfish was wasting its time (in addition to messing up the eel's chance to surprise small prey), because I do not think a cleaner shrimp was anywhere in the vicinity. And the steady rate of the hogfish's movement makes me think it was not going to get any shrimp latching on...

 

 

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Very interesting behaviour observation Tubino. Could it possibly be some type of territorial display? Although I wouldn't want to stir one of those Eels myself.

 

Cheers,

Jim.

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Fish and eels often hunt together, and to join in the hunt, the fish rubs itself on the snake's cheek. Maybe the hogfish wanted to join in the impending hunt? I've seen daily nuclear hunting groups in Bonaire, usually in late afternoon between 4 and 5 pm. Before I found out what this was called (from reading the fish behaviour book by Humann, et al) I just called it a 'gang of fish' due to the large groups of different fish moving from place to place with an eel.

 

It's possible that this is what you were observing.

Edited by Natalie_S

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On a recent trip to Bonaire I was lucky enough to catch a sailfin blenny doing some dramatic displays. As I waited I would take glances over at a spotted snake eel, whose head stuck out of the sand. More than once I saw a Spanish Hogfish swim in a very tight circle around the eel's head, brushing against the eel. I took a few snaps. As the pictures show, the fish was stirring up some sand as it made its passes. Has anyone seen that before, and if this happens regularly, does anyone know why it happens? Sorry if this is out of place here -- I don't know of a better forum, but would be happy to learn of one.

 

949980293_iPViT-M.jpg

 

953957922_bBVYS-M.jpg

 

953961038_HeWxJ-M.jpg

 

953962411_88UMR-M.jpg

 

953963993_HK8JU-M.jpg

 

953965341_k7k39-M.jpg

 

953966701_qMxhj-M.jpg

 

953959382_VkNJN-M.jpg

 

This is very interesting because I have never seen this behavior in a wrasse. The behavior is called 'mobbing' and was first described in birds in cases where small maneuverable birds mob a potential predator (e.g. a hawk or cat) to draw attention to its presence and/or harass it. Its fairly well known that damselfishes do this to scorpionfishes, groupers, eels or other predators.

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I don't think this is mobbing. Knowing what I know about wrasses, I think this behavior is what Natalie describes, I think the wrasse was trying to make the eel go out on a hunt so that he could get whatever the eel missed...

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