Advertisement

13th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Papa's got a brand new bag

This is a yellow-headed jawfish male that incubates its eggs (or its brood) in its mouth. That’s right–the male carries the babies. In the beginning, the jawfish is able to swallow the eggs, keeping them hidden, and occasionally spits them out to grab a bite, then sucks them back in, all in one gulp. It is fascinating to watch, and quite a challenge. The challenge gets tougher as the brood develops and gets larger. What was so sweet though was that after about an hour of observation with this little fish, he accepted that I was not a predator and that my presence could actually protect him. Soon he became comfortable and almost even proud to show off his family to be.

This photo is a finalist in the Natural World category of our 13th Annual Photo Contest. See all 70 finalists here.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 01.2013
Date Uploaded: 12.2015
Photo Location: Lake Worth Inlet, Riviera, Florida, United States of America
Camera: NIKON D200
Copyright: © Suzan Meldonian
Awards
Photo of the Day: 02.24.16
Finalist