One of Bonaire’s most talented underwater photographers, Ellen Muller, was lucky to find and film a rare event indeed: A male Banded Jawfish giving birth!
Although the Yellowhead Jawfish is frequently seen when diving in Bonaire’s waters, the Banded Jawfish is normally much more reclusive. So Ellen was delighted when she came upon a pair. As is her habit, she will return to visit a creature again and again, and so it was with glee that she found the male with a mouthful of eggs! The “daddy” jawfish carries and incubates the eggs in his mouth.
Not only is Ellen an excellent photographer, but she is an exceptional naturalist as well. She has spent several years studying the habits of the more common Yellowhead Jawfish, and she documented the timing of their egg cycle and release of their larvae.
Ellen was hopeful that the knowledge would apply to the Banded Jawfish so she could capture the father releasing his babies. Surprisingly, there were more differences in behavior between the two species than she originally thought.
With the difficult location of these fish I had to get the timing exactly right. On my first try, I was unsuccessful but the second time was a charm. I was immensely thrilled to be able to capture the male Banded Jawfish releasing his young into the night sea!— Ellen Muller
The entire birth took approximately 20 minutes.
(Source: Ellen Muller)
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Susan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.