By Terry Sovil from the July 2011 Edition
Acapulco Damselfish (or Acapulco Gregory)
These fish are common on the mainland of Mexico to Panama and as far south as Peru. They are solitary and inhabit rocky and coral reefs and shorelines. They tend to ignore divers but will usually allow a slow, non-threatening approach. From the Family of Damselfish they have a light colored fore body that makes an abrupt change to a dark rear body. They range in depth from 5-75′. They have a light brown to gray fore body with a dark brown to charcoal rear body that grows increasingly dark on their tail. There are thi dark outlines on their scales. They grow from 2 ½” to 4 ½” to a maximum of 7″.
Balloonfish (also called Porcupine Fish or Blowfish)
Spines are usually lowered but can become erect without the fish inflating. They are common from the Gulf of California south to Panama. Generally solitary but loose schools of them can be observed in Manzanillo. They prefer shade, protective areas in rock reefs and boulder strewn slopes and walls. They can be wary of divers but will usually allow a close approach. They are of the Family of Spiny Puffers. They are generally brown with small dark spots. They have no spots on their fins and long spines on their heads. Size is 8-14″, maximum 20″.
Dusky blotches form bars across back and tail base. Single row of short spines extend down the back and tail. They are from the Family of Guitarfishes. Usually shades of brown, occasionally gray; often have pale spots on back. They have a flattened, relatively narrow disc; long thick tail base with two prominent dorsal fins and large tail. They are rare in the Gulf of California and Pacific Coast of Baja; also north to Southern California. Many were observed in Manzanillo waters this past high season. Inhabit rocky reefs and gravel-strewn areas. Commonly rest in crevices and other recesses; rarely bury in the sand. Tend to ignore divers; move away only when closely approached or molested. They grow from 1 ½ to 2 ½ feet to a maximum of 3 feet.
These fish live in depths from 10-70′ from the Baja to Panama, They prefer boulder strewn areas and often travel in large schools. They tend to ignore divers but will move away if you approach. It’s best to wait in their path, stay still and quiet or approach them very slowly.
The barberfish are part of the Chaetodontidae Family of Butterflyfishes which are known in Mexico as Peces Maríposas. They have a black ring around the eye and a black bar from their mid-dorsal to the base of their tail. They have a silver head with a silver-yellow body and a black ring around their snout. There is a black bar from the front of their dorsal fin to above their eye. They grow from 3-4″ with a maximum of 6″.
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.