Archer Fish - Gam / Waigeo
In the final instalment of our blog series on the species of Raja Ampat, we head to the largest island of the “Four Kings”. This locality is home to some of the most spectacular mangroves you are ever likely to see, and also some ingenious species adaptations that would make Wallace and Darwin proud
The first I ever learnt of this small but effective predator, I was actually a victim of it in a Singaporean Aquarium. After wandering around the open topped tanks looking at the rays, I passed by what looked like a really bad impression of a mangrove, overhanging branches and well shaded, just made out of Styrofoam. As I gazed through the surface of the water to see what I could find, I was spat at, direct hit to the left eye, feeling like I’d been stung by a bug. Luckily for me, only my looks and my pride were wounded as a group of school children laughed at the whole scenario.
As I regained my balance and moved my attention to the side of the tank, I saw these oddly shaped fish with their upturned mouths, loitering around the surface. I read the small information sign about the species and where they usually inhabit, and felt intrigued about this small fish aptly named ‘Archer’. A regular charter we make in the north often takes us to a dive site named ‘The Passage’.
Alfred Russel Wallace upon ‘Discovering’ the passage, initially thought it was an inlet to a lake, when actually it is a narrow passage that split two land masses. It hasn’t changed much today, and at the mouth of the entrance to the site where we end the dive there are some beautiful mangroves. Here we often sit in a few meters of water, just hanging out with these Archer fish, as they try and dislodge bugs hanging on branches. New studies coming out of the university of Madrid show that these fish actually use the water like a tool due to the way they actually funnel the water into a jet stream and pinpoint their prey.