Just for a change of pace, from the macro to the micro: here is the scenic view off Flores Island, Indonesia. (Who says scenery has to be above water?) Featured in National Geographic’s coral series, this arresting image shows a juvenile wrasse hiding out in a patch of anchor coral.
Wrasses are a big family, including more than 300 species that run the gamut of colors and patterns. Many of them also run the gamut of gender. In some species, large males control a territory full of females, but if that male disappears, the most dominant female in the area will morph into a male. In other species, the gender of the larval fish is not yet set in stone, with the larvae “choosing” a sex as they mature into juveniles. That choice that seems to depend on whether or not they grow up in a crowd. Crowds give more males a chance to breed, but juveniles growing up with few other wrasses around will tend to become female — and thus be nearly guaranteed the opportunity to reproduce.
Wrasses know how to hedge their bets. Why lock down a single gender if you don’t have to?
(Click the image to wallpaperize.)