Monday, September 8, 2014

The Punkest Fish in the Sea

Dust off your record player, whip out that old Sex Pistols vinyl, and get moshing because this week we're talking about the punkest fish there is: the rock-mover wrasse.

"Oi, Oi, Oi!!!"
Courtesy Steve Dunleavy via Flickr

Rock-movers, also called dragon wrasses (Novaculicthys taeniourus), are a tropical fish found all throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans. So how is it punk? A better question would be how isn't it? But you wouldn't know that would you poser!? 

First off; just look at that thing. That is the single most rockin' mohawk in the history of evolution. Not only does it have two giant fans on its head, the dorsal (back) and anal (you can probably guess) fin have adapted into mohawks too. It's also patterned like someone used a cigarette to put burn holes in a national flag and then splashed whitewash across it. There's that subdued and tasteful green background with the orderly, geometric, brown, dividing lines; and then a bunch of random white splotches ringed by black. These adaptations allow juvenile rock-movers to pretend they're drifting dead algae that's full of holes. Yeah they dress as trash. Throw a safety pin on there and you've got the whole look locked down.

I'll be honest I'm not sure I remember which picture is the fish...
Courtesy Ken Tam and Trip & Queball via Flickr

Of course it's not enough to dress punk. If you don't want to get called out as a poser you've got to act punk too. When rock-movers are put in aquariums while they're still small, other fish will often pick on them. However once they size up a bit and get confident they'll take on virtually everything around them. They establish a territory and guard it against any and all comers; I mean literally too. I was first introduced to this fish in an open top tank behind the scenes at an aquarium. I leaned over to look in, and a rock-mover shot out from the coral and charged the surface. A four inch fish tried to take on a 6 foot human because I looked at him funny.

In the wild rock-mover wrasses can be found living above sand and coral rubble between reefs. These fish deliberately live in the broken waste between the closest things the ocean has to cities. That is hardcore as s**t. They constantly toss rocks and coral rubble around  (hence the name) even building them into forts which they can sleep under. Now fancy "educators" and "scientists" might try to tell you they lift the stones to look for invertebrates underneath that they can eat, but we all know they're really practicing putting bricks through windows. Sometimes rock-movers will channel all their teen angst at once to lift rocks nearly as heavy as themselves or bury completely.

Best watched with Anarchy in the UK playing in the background

But there's one final nail in the coffin for this being the most punk fish in the sea. Something that's an essential stage in the punk lifecyle. They totally grow out of it. See the crazy flamboyant colors and appendages are just a phase. Every picture I've shown you so far has been a juvenile. Eventually like any punk; rock-movers settle down, put on some more practical fins, and have a couple hundred kids.

Though they might go to an occasional Alice Cooper concert
Courtesy J.E.Randall via EOL


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