You have probably seen this white and blue Damsel-Fish that has a yellow margin on the dorsal part of its body, nearly everywhere, whether it has been in the Atlantic, Pacific or Indo-pacific ocean, due to their wide distribution. Although there are many different species of this army’s leader, the Sergeant Major, the one mostly seen in the Maldives is the Abudefduf vaigiensis, they aggregate in groups and prefer to be in shallow waters within reefs. They have received the title of Sergeant Major, due to the five bars present on its body, which resembles the insignia designed for that same title in the military. However, it could also relate to the bossy behaviour that males exhibit towards other members of the reef while guarding their eggs. Every month they clean patches of the reef to allow their ladies to lay their eggs and then they will protect them until the hatch. They may be small and have a very cute appearance but you must salute them or suffer the consequences
Fusiliers like to be in squadrons, as they school in large numbers over the reefs or even in open ocean. You can usually see them in midwater but sometimes close to the surface. Their cylindrical and streamlined body shape allows them to shoot through the water like bullets to collect plankton with their extensible upper jaws. They have the body armour and training to fight the strong currents that bring in their main food source. They are the true fireteam of this fishy army.
The orange/red coloured Soldierfish are not very brave, if approached they will quickly find a place for cover. They are bigger wimps during the day, where they remain in their forts, under table corals and in crevices, where nothing can see or touch them. However, as soon as the night falls they begin their nocturnal ambush to find plankton. For that reason they have big eyes so that they can scope the safety of their attack area in the dark, this characteristic is very common on other nocturnal animals. They may not be heroic but they also refuse to surrender.
Since this army’s main mission is to either find food or shelter they are professionals of survival, and their ranks are very important for the maintenance of healthy food webs and marine ecosystems.
Federica and Dayanne
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