A piscatorial palette

Gurnard a masterpiece of colour

Whether it’s a gurnard’s blazing lumo green wings or the blue mackerel’s mesmerizing stripes, the colours from the underwater world continue to stagger me.

One of my favourite hobbies these days is just taking photos of the weird and wonderful species we have on offer here in New Zealand, each new one I catch brings me delight.

Gurnard are easily the most colourful fish throughout our inshore fisheries. How these fish managed to evolve in this way is unbelievable. A ‘grunter’s’ wings are like a fingerprint to each individual, with no two being the same. Some have the brightest blue spots whereas others possess white spots. The black splotches are like a random paint spill across each side of the wings. Completing the mad sprinkling of colour is the cobalt blue wing edges. This is before you even look at the striking red colouration of the rest of their body.

Red spots on blue halos, the brook trout

Brook trout bring out the absolute best colouration of our freshwater fish. I don’t think anything comes close. Starting at the top of the body are these brilliant, mottled stripes which then melt into spots. As you look further down to the flanks, red spots rounded with blue halos appear across the fish’s length. Finally, at the bottom is the most spectacular combination of red, black and white. The entire belly lights up red like a Christmas tree, with the fins rounded off with a splash of bright white and black paint.

Electric blue, snapper

Taking the pole position for salt water body tattoos is the snapper with its electric blue spots scattered right across its flanks. Not many other fish can compete with just how lit up the snapper becomes when fresh out of the water. The mostbrilliant colour comes from the marking right above each eye; this is a much darker shade of blue—likely designed to confuse the prey it is after. Each pelvic fin looks to have been spray painted with the same electric blue to complete the look. Who knew bronze and blue could look this good together?

Yellows and greens add sheen to kingfish

The yellow and green combination of the well named yellowtail kingfish takes my pick for our inshore predators. You won’t find one fin without a paint stroke of yellow on this fish. The fluorescent dorsal, caudal, and pelvic fins all bring their best shades of yellow to complement the widely varied greens across the back and flanks. The iconic golden stripe cuts through the body from the snout and ends at the tail.

Ever since I was young, fish have fascinated me with their colouration and unique lifestyle underwater. In the future I hope to tangle with more weird and wonderful creatures of the deep.

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