As mentioned in my previous post, we decided to take the plunge to see ‘something special’ in the deep waters of La Boca, near Trinidad, Cuba. In relatively shallow waters, say from 10 meters and deeper, the first Gramma loreto can be found. These numbers increase when going to about 30 meters. When diving deeper, the loretos are gradually replaced by G. melacara. Nice, but nothing new, yet…
Pedro told us that from a depth of about 50 metres, some “green melacaras” can be found. Until that moment, I had always been under the impression that a Gramma melacara, also being called ‘blackcap’ is a purple fish with a black spot on the head. Pedro explained that, when brought to the surface, the ‘normal’ melacaras of course look as we know them, and the green ones really look green!
His story about the ‘green melacara’ was interesting at least. My dive buddy and me discussed the plan into detail. While risky it was also tempting, so we made a planning for this dive as conservative as possible. Among other safety measures, the plan involved going deep as fast as possible, staying at the depth of 50 metres for a maximum of 6 minutes and then having multiple deco-stops at different levels.
When swimming at a depth of 50 metres, no green melacaras were visible. Pedro was swimming under us giving the sign he found one… What to do? Especially I was very curious. As there still was a safety margin, we decided to descend a bit deeper, ending up at a depth of nearly 60 metres (196 feet). Here, under overhangs covered with sponges resembling roots of plants hanging from the ceiling, we saw, among normal melacaras, a bright green fish with a white belly clearly resembling a Gramma sp.
Unfortunately, one of our underwater cameras was already flooded a few days earlier, so we only had one camera on hand. And that camera decided to give problems with its autofocus… So, please accept our apologies for the quality of the picture.
The big question is whether this fish is a really new species, or if it might be a (local) variety of another species, such as Gramma linki. After doing some research in books and on the internet, we could only conclude that the few green specimens of G. linki we found pictures of appear to be much less green. When we asked Arie de Jong from De Jong Marinelife, he told he had never heard of this fish.
That seems more than logical, as the collectors do not collect these fish as they think they are not worth the extra hassle and risks involved. For this moment, you’ll have to deal with the picture we took. Have you ever seen a similar fish or heard about it?