During one of the dives on July 19th I encountered a pair of Whitespotted Filefish.
A page from the Dive Paradise website tells us, “They have scales, although very small, and feel like sandpaper – not dissimilar to a shark’s skin. This roughness is how the Filefish got its name. Reportedly their dried skin was once used to finish wooden boats.”
They go on to say,
Every Filefish has a sharp spine on its head just above its eyes. It erects the spine when threatened as a defensive move. Its primary defense is to erect its dorsal and pectoral fins plus the spine to make it difficult for a predator to eat or to extract from its hiding place if back in a little cave.https://diveparadise.com/2017/11/05/american-whitespotted-filefish-cozumel-reefs/
It looks like I made the darker filefish nervous since it’s spine was up as it approached me, and what I assume is it’s mate. Since both sexes can change color, that’s not a good way to tell which is the male and which is the female. The website says, “It is difficult to differentiate between males and females. The male fish are said to have slightly larger appendages extending from their bodies at the base of their tails.”
When the orange colored filefish turned it’s tale towards me I can see what I think are the “appendages extending from their bodies at the base of their tails.” Although it’s still difficult to tell for sure, this would make the orange colored filefish the male.