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Experiencing Ascension Island's beautiful underwater scenery is one of life's great pleasures. Previous volcanic activity has created ranges of peaks with sheer cliffs and boulders tumbling to the seabed. Some rocky peaks break the surface, others remain beneath. Boulders are rugged and jagged, excellent camouflage territory for the scorpionfish; others are smoother, good perches for blennies. All crevices, valleys and caves are alive with fish. The cliffs and boulders give way to sand, or pebbles which in turn stretch into sand.

When visibility is good, the rocks illuminated by sunshine create a wonderful background to the brilliant colours of the fish, small corals and sponges. Amazing mixed shoals of some fish and many different varieties of others, all display their distinctive behaviour. On other days you are caught in an avalanche of bubbles from the swell exploding against the rocks.

This publication is a photographic guide of fish as snorkellers see them. Colours are variable as they change with depth. Reds have disappeared by 4 metres, orange and yellow fading as the fish go deeper. Those photographed with 'flash' show their actual colour which can be quite surprising! All photographs were taken by John, except those with credits.

The fish are arranged alphabetically by their international names, followed by local and latin names, thus:

BLACK DURGON/"BLACKFISH" Melichthys niger.

Identifying fish accurately is notoriously difficult. Fish with international and/or local names plus latin names have been positively identified. Gaps, question marks or sp. (species uncertain) show a need for further study. Dr Edwards makes the point that only by studying a dead specimen can you be certain it is unable to change its colour, texture and spots! Do go and explore this fascinating underwater world!


The authors wish to express their gratitude to: Jimmy Young, Ascension Island's leading authority on local fish; without him we would have missed many of the smaller fish. Dr Alasdair Edwards of The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the author of "Fish and Fisheries of St Helena Island", for kindly checking our manuscript. Dr Ken Collins and Jenny Mallinson, Southampton Oceanography Centre, for their help.


Last revised on the 1st of September 2002. For any comments or questions about the Society and its work, or this website, please e-mail us via this link in Ascension.