By Terry Sovil from the May 2012 Edition
Panamic Sergeant Major
The Panamic Sergeant Major ranges from 5-100′ (1.5-30M). They have an elongated, disk shaped body, usually black and silver to white head and belly. They often have bluish and blue-green tints. Breeding males generally display a blue wash when courting or guarding eggs. This fish is common from the Sea of Cortez to Panama. They generally form loose aggregations above boulder-strewn reefs and slopes with good water movement. They are most common in the 10-25′ (3-7.5M range). Breeding males will aggressively guard their egg patches and will charge and nip intruders. They tend to ignore divers
The Panamic Sergeant Major is from the family of Damselfishes. They feature yellowish wash on back with five to six dark bars on their body and at the base of their tail. They grow from 3-5” (7.5cm-12.5cm).
The Panamic Soldierfish is red with no distinctive markings. They are uniform in color on body and fins. They have large, obvious scales. They are from the family of Squirrelfishes noted for their large eyes. They range in depths from 10 to 80 feet (3-24M).
They are common from the Gulf of California and the southern coast
of Baja to Panama. They tend to be solitary or form small groups. During the day they drift inside cracks, crevices, small caves and under ledge overhangs. They may mix with Bigscale Soldierfish and Tinsel Squirrelfish. They forage in the open at night in the 15′ to 40′ (4.5 to 12M) range. They are wary when approached and will retreat deep into their hiding places but will return after a short time to peer out. They grow from 4.5”-6” (11 to 15 CM) with a maximum of 7” (17cm).
This is a personal favorite that I’ve seen often at Club de Yates – the finest, and one of the only shore dives in Manzanillo. They prefer warmer water and inhabit sandy areas near rocky reefs. They have a spike and can point it forward to ward off predators. If frightened or startled they escape by diving beneath and moving under sand. They are generally wary of divers but can usually be observed with a slow approach.
The Peacock Razorfish is from the family of Wrasses. They feature include their first two dorsal spines which form a sharp spike. Their head profile is blunt. They grow from 5-10″ (12-25 cm) with a maximum of 14″ (35 cm).
The Player Scorpionfish ranges from depths of 15 to 480’ (4.5 to 145 M). They have a heavy stout head and body often with numerous skin flaps. They can pale, darken and change color to blend with the background. They are common from the Gulf of California and Pacific Coast of Baja to Panama. They are a solitary fish and inhabit rocky, boulder-strewn/gravel-strewn slopes and wall ledges camouflaging with their surroundings. They are ambush predators that lie motionless waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass near their large mouths. Even when divers approach they remain still, relying on camouflage. They move only when closely approached or if molested. The spines of the dorsal fin are venomous and can cause a painful wound. Many divers can have one pointed out and they still can’t see it as their camouflage is very good.
They are from the family of Scorpionfish and have heavy, often reddish, circular blotches on their fore body. They range in size from 5” to 9” (12-22cm) with a maximum of 11″ (24cm). Their spines are venomous.
Terry is a founding partner and scuba instructor for Aquatic Sports and Adventures (Deportes y Aventuras Acuáticas) in Manzanillo. A PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) Master Instructor in his 36th year as a PADI Professional. He also holds 15 Specialty Instructor Course ratings. Terry held a US Coast Guard 50-Ton Masters (Captain's) License. In his past corporate life, he worked in computers from 1973 to 2005 from a computer operator to a project manager for companies including GE Capital Fleet Services and Target. From 2005 to 2008, he developed and oversaw delivery of training to Target's Loss Prevention (Asset Protection) employees on the West Coast, USA. He led a network of 80+ instructors, evaluated training, performed needs assessments and gathered feedback on the delivery of training, conducted training in Crisis Leadership and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention to Target executives. Independently, he has taught hundreds of hours of skills-based training in American Red Cross CPR, First Aid, SCUBA and sailing and managed a staff of Project Managers at LogicBay in the production of multi-media training and web sites in a fast-paced environment of artists, instructional designers, writers and developers, creating a variety of interactive training and support products for Fortune 1000 companies.