Juvenile Roman at the end of the pipeline at Long Beach

Sea life: Roman

Roman at Pyramid Rock
Roman at Pyramid Rock

You’re probably very familiar with the red and white markings of adult Roman (Chrysoblephus laticeps), fish that can be seen on most of the reefs on both sides of the peninsula. All Roman smaller than 30 centimetres are female; they become male as they grow beyond this size. According to Coastal Fishes of Southern Africa, a 40 centimetre Roman is 17 years old, and their maximum size is about 50 centimetres. By that time they’re probably older than you are, and it makes one pause to think that we would even dare to spear or angle for such a creature.

These fish are quite territorial, and are often found hiding in cracks between rocks. They eat sea urchins, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.

Juvenile Roman at the end of the pipeline at Long Beach
Juvenile Roman at the end of the pipeline at Long Beach

Juvenile Roman look quite different to the adults, as the picture above shows. They tend to stick very firmly to a single location, and are sometimes found in small groups. I had to approach this one very carefully, as they are skittish little fish.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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