Alex Mustard - Hamlet Love
Hamlets are fascinating fish, fascinating animals. There are about 10 species, but while these Caribbean species look different from each other, scientists cannot tell them apart genetically. The conclusion being that they are still in the process of evolving into separate species. They prefer to mate with their own colour type (as seen here) and each time they do they become closer to being distinct species. But each time they hybridise they take a step back.
They are also one of the few vertebrate species that are true simultaneous hermaphrodites. When they spawn, as shown here, the pair take it in turns to be male and female. Minutes after I took this photo, the pair mated again with their sexual roles exchanged. It is probably best not to try and think of this in human terms.
Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Tags: Alex Mustard, Cayman Islands, Hypoplectrus aberrans, reproduction, underwater, yellow belly hamlets