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Onespot fringehead, Neoclinus uninotatus

Onespot fringehead, Neoclinus uninotatus, Spanish shawl, Flabellina iodinea
This spanish shawl (Flabellina iodinea) appears to be in danger of
becoming a colorful snack for a onespot fringehead (Neoclinus
uninotatus). Thankfully for the shawl, its wild coloration is indicative of
it's ability to sting potential predators. Spanish shawls rove the reef in
search of the hydroids upon which they feed. Interestingly enough, a shawl's
stinging ability comes from special cells called nematocysts which are captured
from prey and passed through the digestive system without being discharged. It's
possible that this fringehead wasn't interested in the passing slug because it
was familiar with its defense mechanism. However, I suspect that it's more
likely the fish was entirely unaware of its visitor. Fringeheads, apparently,
have poor eyesight. I've seen them out hunting -- they're quite prone to
mistaking rocks for prey.

    "Anchor Farm", Monterey Bay, California
    December 4, 2004

Onespot fringehead, Neoclinus uninotatus
An unusually cooperative onespot fringehead (Neoclinus uninotatus) poses
for a portrait. These fish are seldom seen out in the open. Usually they tuck
everything but their head into a hole where it can't be seen. You can imagine my
surprise when I stumbled across a pack of onespot fringeheads hunting out in the
open. The group made attempts to eat just about everything in sight. Shrimp,
several nearby ronquils, even rocks if they even vaguely resembled something
more animate. I suspect that the shrimp were the menu item of choice. Certainly,
the little crustaceans were quick to vacate their holes when a fringehead
approached. More definitive proof was a red and white banded shrimp antenna
dangling from the mouth of one of the hunters. Surprisingly, a full mouth didn't
prevent this fish from seeking out additional prey.

    "Shale Island", Monterey Bay, California
    March 4, 2006

Onespot fringehead, Neoclinus uninotatus
Fire-breathing dragon? No, merely a onespot fringehead (Neoclinus
uninotatus) taking hold of a meal in the form of a segmented worm.

    "Breakwater", Monterey Bay, California
    October 21, 2005

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