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Paintings Website of Lee James Pantas
 

  

Liza's Reef, by Lee James Pantas

Painting #1 Liza's Reef

Prints available at artist's website
 

 
  Fantasy Biology

Liza's Reef, coral reef art"Liza's Reef" is the first painting in the Liza's Reef series. It shows a lush stand of brilliantly colored Royal Coral, or Corail Royal as it is referred to  in the island's Tahitian-French dialect, and behind it, a tall stand of  Poenui Rougissent Corail (Poenui's Blushing Coral).  This unusual coral has the chameleon-like ability to change colors, perhaps a response to light intensity or changes in the water.  Pink seems to be the predominant color but shades of yellow, blue and green are also common. The white color of this coral, as with the Royal Coral, is also typical Liza's Reef, coral reef artof many corals on Liza's Reef and is not a sign of  bleaching but instead  seems to be a precursor to more  highly colored shades that appear as the corals age. The types of corals on the reef are similar to others I have seen around the world but at the same time were distinctly different in many ways.

 

Liza's Reef, coral reef artThere were hundreds of extraordinary fish  on Liza's Reef and I have included a number of my favorites in this painting. The large orange grouper is called Mérou De Coucher du Soleil, or Sunset Grouper. It seems to be one of the dominant fish of the reef, is highly territorial and very aggressive when threatened,  and  they remind me somewhat of Nassau Groupers in their behavior and appearance. They  can get quite large according to the natives on VanuaSemia, and specimens up to three feet in length have been reported. They also seem to have an unusual relationship with the lovely smaller Jaune Blanche Tang, Liza's Reef, coral reef artyellow and white tang (Saveur Jaune et Blanche) shown below it and the two species are often found together. The grouper exhibits its protective territorial behavior not only when it is threatened but also when any reef predators threaten the tangs. This may have more to do with their common territories and similar colors than any species intercommunication but still it is an interesting and fascinating fact. It is quite rare in nature for one species to defend another.

Poisson Ange De la Reine and Pufferfish Du Fiji, Liza's Reef, coral reef artAlso seen in the painting are the beautiful Queen Angel Fish (Poisson Ange De la Reine) seen throughout the South Pacific, and a species of feisty pufferfish the natives called Pufferfish Du Fiji, or Fiji's Pufferfish. No one knows  how this species got its name or what connection it has with Fiji, since none are found in that part of the South Pacific. They are  always found in groups and exhibit a most unusual behavior of swimming up to large branches of coral and suddenly darting up and over them, almost as if they were "jumping". 

Liza's Reef, coral reef artThe large starfish shown at the bottom of the painting is the famous Etoile Du Pacifique (Pacific Star) found throughout Oceania. There are many of these on the reef, and unlike the Crown of Thorns Starfish that is so destructive of coral reefs, this species seems to have a benign relationship with the reefs it inhabits. It is a very popular with the natives of VanuaSemia, and are thought to be a sign of good luck when  one is found washed up on the island's beaches.

Liza's Reef, coral reef artIn the upper left of the painting is a grouping of the common Corail Tacheté Vert Bleu, or Blue Green Speckled Coral which is found often on all of the reefs around VanuaSemia, not just Liza's.


Liza's Reef, coral reef artAnd on the right side of the painting, ascending in a line, are some of the large dark, almost identical blue bubbles which are only seen on Liza's Reef  -Bulles Stellaires Bleues as they are called.  The VanuaSemians say that they are the "dreams made visible" of  Motu Mana , their Goddess of the Coral Reefs, and that they are proof of her presence. The other proofs they claim of Motu Mana's presence, are the shimmering stars and the moons that are seen everywhere interwoven in the fabric of the reef, the most extraordinary feature of all.