Hard evidence

As we followed the progress of courtship and mating between these tiny critters, Shaun noted again the blur of white left behind when they dipped back down to safety. However, it wasnit till our return home that we saw the proof. The cloud of white had indeed been mingled eggs and sperm.

We learnt that mandarin fish are the smallest of all marine species to spawn into open water. Like other spawners, they produce millions of eggs, but their parental duties are over once theyire deposited into the water. The eggs drop down into the cracks of the coral and are left to grow into larvae. By projecting our images up, we even found a few frames with egg trails slipping from the female body. Not only had we become willing voyeurs, weid witnessed the birth of a new generation of these exotic reef dwellers.

JllSC 4 faw minütEi by bait from Sipiidafi, but a full world away, Les the exhibracing Sipadsn-Kspniai Dive R

Mmr&kmm itt Phe Cetebe*.

Story © Beth Tierney Pictures© Shaun Tierney

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