Bluehead Wrasse are a common sight on coral reefs in Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Terminal phase Bluehead Wrasse are blueish-green in color, while females and initial phase males are predominantly yellow.
John Godwin, Ph.D., together with his collaborators and students, studies Bluehead Wrasse on reefs in the Florida Keys.
One of the study sites is near Carysfort Lighthouse off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.
Terminal phase male Bluehead Wrasse pair-spawn with females.
A female gravid with eggs.
All terminal phase males begin their lives as either females or initial phase males.
Initial phase males and females group-spawn together by rushing up into the water column.
After releasing a “cloud” of eggs and sperm, the fish swim back down to the safety of the reef.
Terminal phase males aggressively defend spawning territories from other terminal phase males and initial phase males who try to sneak in undetected among the females.
Changing Seas Cameraman Sean Hickey films John Godwin, Ph.D. as he preps to capture female Bluehead Wrasse for research.
Once a terminal phase male disappears from its territory, the next largest female (or initial phase male) starts changing sex to replace the terminal phase male.
Bluehead Wrasse aren't the only fish attracted to the bait placed in the net.
To understand what happens in the body when females change sex, John Godwin, Ph.D. captures and tags females to re-capture them at a later time after they’ve started changing sex.
A tagged female Bluehead Wrasse on the reef.
To induce sex change in the largest female, researchers remove terminal phase males from their spawning territory.
This tagged female will be recaptured and examined after she has begun the process of sex change.
Fish, which change sex from female to male, are known as protogynous (proto -first, gyno -female) hermaphrodites.
It is fascinating and amusing to observe reef fish behavior in the wild.
Felicia Coleman, Ph.D. and Chris Koenig, Ph.D. have spent large portions of their careers studying economically viable fish species such as grouper.
Changing Seas cameraman Yoandy Vidal checks out the shot while producer Alexa Elliott prepares to interview Chris Koenig, Ph.D. about his gag grouper research.
Changing Seas producer Alexa Elliott interviews Felicia Coleman, Ph.D. about her gag grouper research while production assistant Monique Arenas works to adjust the lighting.
ORA President Dustin Dorton (left) and ORA Production Manager Adam Heinrich (right) show Changing Seas cameraman Sean Hickey some of the species raised at the facility.
A clownfish with a batch of eggs. Clownfish need a smooth surface to lay their eggs on.
A mating pair of hamlets. Hamlets are simultaneous hermaphrodites.
These clownfish raised by ORA are ready for their “forever home.”
For some deep sea anglerfish species, the much smaller male permanently attaches to the female’s body. She provides him with sustenance while he provides her with sperm.
A computer-generated image of a deep sea anglerfish.