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162. Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)


The Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), with its unique brilliant colouration, is a favourite among scuba divers, underwater photographers, and marine wildlife filmmakers alike. This angelfish (genus Pomacanthus) is widespread in the tropical coral reefs and warm waters of the Indo-Pacific Oceans. Its distribution ranges from Africa's eastern coast, including the Red Sea, to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the French territory of New Caledonia, and up north to Japan's southern waters.

The juvenile form of this angelfish has a completely different coloration than its adult counterpart. Juveniles exhibit electric blue and white rings on a dark blue background. When growing into adulthood, their coloration and stripe pattern change. They develop a uniform yellow tail fin, and the white and blue circular rings turn into yellow horizontal stripes. This colourful transformation takes about 2 to 2.5 years. There used to be a time in history when people believed that juveniles and adults were two completely different species.

During the mating season, this fish will exhibit a form of sexual dimorphism: the mask of a male will turn into a very dark blue, while the female's will turn into a bluish grey or beige colour. Males often have harems of 2 to 5 females. Spawning happens near the ocean's surface, where the male fertilises the eggs released by the female. These eggs are at the mercy of the ocean's currents, and newly born youngsters will settle on a distant coral reef.

This omnivorous and solitary fish is territorial, defending its patch of reef mostly against individuals from the same species. The Emperor Angelfish feeds on a wide variety of encrusting organisms, but it prefers a diet of sponges and algae. The angelfish has bulky, strong jaws, which are made up of tiny, needle-like pieces of silica. When disturbed or threatened, adults can also produce a low-frequency "knocking" sound.

Juveniles are often found under ledges and in the vicinity of cleaner shrimps and act as cleaner fish, feeding by cleaning ectoparasites and dead skin off larger fishes.


To accentuate the movement of the Angelfish's mouth, I've added a little snapping sound in post-production. Adding sounds that are not present in the real world is a common editing technique in the world of audiovisual storytelling. It allows us to enhance the viewer's experience, draw attention to specific details, or create emotional impact.

In this case, the snapping sound was carefully selected to match the visual cues of the angelfish's mouth movement, giving the impression of the fish's jaws closing rapidly. This auditory enhancement serves multiple purposes; sound can captivate the audience's attention. By emphasising the fish's mouth movement with a distinctive sound, we make sure that viewers are not only seeing but also hearing the action, making it more memorable. In the absence of actual underwater audio recordings, adding this sound helps emphasise the fish's behaviour, making it a focal point in the scene. It guides the viewer's attention and enhances the storytelling aspect of the underwater video. While the snapping sound is artificially created, it still aligns with our expectations of how underwater scenes should sound. This familiarity with the aquatic environment helps maintain the illusion of reality in this marine wildlife video.

Of course, it's essential to use such audio enhancements judiciously and ethically. Misleading or overused sound effects can detract from the authenticity of a video or even deceive the audience. Therefore, when adding sounds that are not naturally present underwater, it's crucial to do so with transparency and respect for the context of the content being produced.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

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