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.
But how can you be camouflaged 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.
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.