Harlequin

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My informant Allan Connell sent in some queries which I put up in the previous entry in the diary. One of  them was to do with the Cooper Light wreck which is named after the Cooper Light lighthouse on the Bluff and was mentioned in the early days of this website. The fascinating thing for me was that the real name of the vessel was unknown (and still is as far as I know) and nobody could say when or how it sank – see bottom of the entry for details and links.

Allan was able to provide the further interesting information that, when diving on the wreck one day, he noticed an unusual fish. He collected a few of them and sent them off to Phil Heemstra at the JLB Smith ** Institute of Ichthyology in Grahamstown.

Picture courtesy Allan Connell.

It turned out that the fish was a serranid but of a species that had never been described before and was named Pseudanthias cooperi but not, as Allan wrote, after the Cooper Light wreck. The fish particularly like to live around wrecks and are hardly ever found on natural reefs, perhaps because they favour the fact that wrecks are often isolated bumps on the sandy ocean floor. Allan wrote how marine biologists were astonished to find that Pseudanthias cooperi, or Harlequins as they are more commonly known, moved in only months after two barges were sunk south of Cape Vidal.

** Not the first time JLB Smith has been mentioned in these pages –
see how a Coelacanth once slept at Natal Command.

FYI: Allan’s scholarly work on the spawning patterns of marine fish off the KZN coast can be found here.

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