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We regularly post short Marine Wildlife Videos an Photographs with a short explanation regarding the subject and the technique used to capture the image.

All videos are made by Olivier Van den Broeck using Light & Motion video lights

and all photographs are by Greet Meulepas unless stated otherwise.

156. Mauritian Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysogaster) colour change

Subject: The Mauritian Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysogaster) is endemic to the Mascareignes islands, a group of islands in the southern Indian Ocean comprised of Réunion, Mauritius, and Rodrigues. Although very common in Mauritian waters, it is rarer on the reefs of its sister island, Réunion, and probably absent in Rodrigues.

It is one of thirty species of anemonefish that form a symbiotic mutualistic relationship with anemones. All members of this group belong to the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family of damsels Pomacentridae.

The Mauritian Anemonefish bears the typical anatomical characteristics for this subfamily; a typical small oval damselfish shape, yellow/orange/red/black coloured skin and white lines, bars, and/or markings. The colours of a single species of anemonefish vary depending on its distribution, sex, age, and host anemone. However, the juveniles of this particular anemonefish are always orange coloured with white bars, but at a later stage in life, they change colour depending on their host anemone.

When an individual lives in a Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), like in this clip, the orange of the body (not their fins) starts darkening to brown. When the fish sets out to live in more toxic carpet anemones (Genus Stichodactyla), the orange body changes to black. Why this happens is not fully understood, but different studies suggest that it may have something to do with the anemonefish’s stress response to the greater toxicity of the giant carpet anemone. Research states that, in general, the anemonefish’s thyroid hormone levels were much higher in those living in the giant carpet anemone. These hormones play an important role in the development of the fish’s pigment cells. Other species of anemonefish may develop a similar response to the toxicity of the host anemone regarding the development of their white bars in juveniles; the white bars appear faster (earlier in life) on individuals living in giant carpet anemones. Additionally, the form and shape of the white bars and lines on the anemonefish have something to do with the type of anemone and length and thickness of the anemone’s tentacles in which these little damsels live.

Technique: Music and sounds are essential in film. Seemingly happy, moving fish are best accompanied by a joyful tune, while a dark and ominous tune can heighten the suspense in a thrilling picture. The right music can evoke a range of emotions in the audience, from joy and excitement to sadness and fear. Sound effects also play a crucial role in the overall audio design of a film. The sound of crawling crustaceans, the fast movements of schooling fish, or even just the mundane noise of sand and gravel can add depth and realism to a scene. In fact, sound is often referred to as the "invisible art" of filmmaking because it can have such a profound impact on the audience's experience. When done well, the music and sound of a film can transport the viewer into another world and fully immerse them in the story being told. To make the clip complete, we also added a matching sound when the anemone fish pinches one of the anemone’s tentacles.

Discover the beauty beneath the surface with our online Marine Wildlife Videography course!