The red Irish lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus; up to 51 cm) is a fish of incredibly stunning diversity of colour. Right down to its flecked, bulging eyes, this ambush predator is a master of camouflage. 

The remarkable eyes of the red Irish lord. Note flecking on the lens. Photo: Hildering.

But how can you be camoflauged when you’re a fish of insane red and/or orange colouring? When you live in the rich, cold waters of the Northeast Pacific where Nature has doled out colour so liberally, you fade into the background even when so vibrantly coloured. Can you find the red Irish lord in the image below (click the image to enlarge)? 

You can be camouflaged yet insanely coloured, if your world is colourful too. Click to enlarge. Photo: Hildering.

They are a favourite species for we underwater photographers since, as ambush hunters, they remain still even when annoying divers are flashing lights in their eyes or when a crab is sitting on their heads (see below).

What inspires me to now share a blog item on this sculpin species, is the awe I felt upon seeing the diversity in colour among the red Irish on yesterday’s dive. We found four individuals among the pinks, reds, yellows and oranges of sponges, soft corals, hydroids and anemones and of course, we missed many more as they were too well-camouflaged! 

I hope that your sense of wonder is also stimulated in realizing that the red Irish lords are able to change their colour, pattern and shading to match their surroundings! 

Below, meet the four I saw yesterday. 

First red Irish lord we found. Not so brightly coloured as the surroundings were also brown/green. Photo: Hildering

Bright surroundings = brightly coloured individual. Photo: Hildering.

Individual number 3, hoping the crab inches down just a bit further so that s/he can feed (and that the annoying photographer would go away!). Photo: Hildering.

This was such a remarkable photo / learning opportunity but my camera was fogging up. Arg! Photo: Frustrated Hildering.

And the 4th remarkably coloured individual on yesterday’s dive (camera lens still foggy). Photo: Hildering.


For more red Irish Lord photos see this link (includes images of males guarding the eggs and larger versions of the images in this blog item).