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69. Cardinal Goatfish (parupeneus ciliatus)


The Cardinal Goatfish (Parupeneus ciliatus) can reach up to 38cm/15 inch in length. Although goatfish are found worldwide in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters, and in many different types of habitats, the Cardinal Goatfish is found throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region, specifically in lagoons, outer reef zones, and seagrass beds. During the daytime, the Cardinal Goatfish is often found in small aggregations; however, from dusk till dawn, it turns into a solitary hunter, preying on small crustaceans and other benthic invertebrates.

Goatfish are named after their chin barbels, which are sometimes referred to as whiskers. These barbels contain sensory organs and are used to explore and search for worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and small invertebrates hiding in the sediment or reef holes. When not in use, the goatfish's barbels are held in a groove between the chin and throat.

Due to their effective hunting technique, goatfish are often followed by other opportunistic fish species. This behaviour, known as shadowing, involves one fish of a different species following another fish to take advantage of its hunting success. Many different fish species employ this opportunistic hunting practice.

Like most goatfish species, the Cardinal Goatfish has the ability to rapidly change colour. When resting on the sand, many species adopt a pale coloration to blend with the background, making them less visible to potential predators. This colour change occurs within seconds and can be reversed just as quickly. It is achieved through a process called physiological colour change. Specialised cells in their skin, known as chromatophores, contain pigments that can expand or contract, resulting in a change in the goatfish's coloration. Goatfish also use colour change as a means of communication or during feeding.

This video features a pair of Cardinal Goatfish filmed on the wreck of the Kei Sei 113 off Mauritius' west coast, where they were seen alongside Whitetip Soldierfish (Myripristis vittata).


After capturing the underwater footage, the videographer must "develop" the footage. This is the most significant and time-consuming part of the video production process. In the past, this process was carried out in a dark room, but nowadays, it is done digitally.

During the editing process of this underwater video clip, specific adjustments were made to enhance the visual impact of certain elements. In particular, the red colour of the soldierfish was exceptionally vibrant, so the brightness saturation of these fish had to be reduced during post-production or editing. This was done to ensure that the red colour appeared more natural and not excessively intense, which could potentially distract or overwhelm the viewer.

On the other hand, the pair of goatfish needed to be highlighted or emphasised in the scene. To achieve this, the intensity of their pink colour was enhanced or boosted during post-production. By increasing the saturation or vibrancy of their pink hue, the goatfish would stand out more prominently in the frame, drawing the viewer's attention to them.

These adjustments made during post-production were aimed at creating a visually pleasing and balanced composition. The colours of the soldierfish were toned down to an appropriate level, while the pink colour of the goatfish was intensified to make them the focal point of the scene.

More on this topic:

For a more detailed description of shadowing, please refer to our vlog post 93 or click on the following link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/shadowing

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