Appeared in DIVER September 2009
Just as canaries once warned of danger in coal mines, the dainty anemonefish is now becoming nature's early-warning system for tropical-sea warming. Justin Gilligan joins marine scientists on Lord Howe Island off Australia as they work to conserve a species facing an uncertain future
Two bleached anemones were found on Lord Howe Island (one is shown here), a sign that future monitoring of these reefs is vital.
The scenery above the waters is as spectacular as that below
Jean-Paul Hobbs records anemonefish and anemone counts on waterproof paper. The black and white fish stand out among the bright orange anemones, so are easy to count.
Marine biologists Joseph Neilson and Jean-Paul Hobbs take a break.
Master and apprentice - Jean-Paul teaches local glass-bottomed-boat tour operator Dean Hiscox how to carry on the surveys of the Lord Howe Island reef residents - on this reef the count stands at 15.
Spray bottle of clove oil and net in hand, Jean-Paul holds up a bag of juvenile McCulloch's anemonefish. Small fin clips are taken for DNA analysis
A large, shallow lagoon to the west of Lord Howe makes for sheltered waters for boating and for reef residents.