Lembeh 2015 Portfolio – Part 1

Coconut octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus
Coconut Octopus— a Lembeh classic—curls inside a large bivalve shell.

Lembeh Strait—Once Again! Part One, October 2015 ~ The narrow 12-mile stretch of water separating Lembeh Island from the large island of Sulawesi in Indonesia is home to one of the Earth’s most diverse displays of natural selection and symbiosis above or below water. Even after more than 20 visits spanning 16 years, the ever-changing carnival of creatures inhabiting the black sand bottom never ceases to surprise, delight and astound us.

Making our two-week stay at Eco-Divers Resort Lembeh even better, we were joined by divers from Germany, Australia, Spain, Russia, the US and England who, like us, are irrepressibly drawn to the living world. And, of course, Lembeh, once again came through in gangbuster fashion.

This gallery of favorites will be followed by a second installment from our Lembeh trip, and in a later post we will detail the flasher wrasse currently hybridizing in the Strait.  If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to “Like” our Blennywatcher Facebook page for more images and videos from our dives.

With its yolk sac nearly depleted and chromatophores beginning to appear, a larval squid, the size of a grape seed, prepares to enter the world:

Unidentified squid embryo in egg case, Lembeh, Indonesia


A Cockatoo Waspfish nestles in the bed of scroll algae blanketing the shallows at Serena Besar:

Cockatoo Waspfish, Ablabys taenianotus


The aptly-named Big-Lip Damsel plucks polyps from Acropora coral thickets where it makes its home:

Big-lip Damsel, Cheiloprion labiatus


A well-camouflaged Warty Frogfish yawns for the camera:

Warty Frogfish, Antennarius maculatus


The headshield slug, Micromelo undata—a circumtropical bubble snail we’ve been hunting for years:

Miniature Melo, Micromelo undata


At night a Spanish Dancer nudibranch, the size of a platter, comes out of hiding and slips across the bottom at Nudi Falls:

Spanish Dancer nudibranch, Hexabranchus sanguineus

When not hanging over the side of the Spanish Dancer grabbing bits of detritus, three hitchiking Emperor Shrimp rest in their host’s gill structure:

Emperor Shrimp, Periclimenes imperator on a Spanish Dancer nudibranch


A Grape Doto nudibrach with eggs ribbons—another first sighting for us:

Doto nudibranch with eggs


An undescribed sand octopus:

Unidentified octopus in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


A quarter inch of cute in the form of a sand-dwelling Siphopteron:

Unidentified Siphopteron in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


A Filamented Flasher Wrasse pauses during the frantic throes of courtship to have parasites plucked by a juvenile Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse:

Filamented Flasher Wrasse, Paracheilinus filamentosus


A wary young Comet Fish caught in the open quickly slips back into the shadows of a crevice:

Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis


A Morrison’s Dragonet flushes red from combat:

Morrison's Dragonet, Synchiropus morrisoni

Male Morrison’s Dragonets resort to a mouth-to-mouth brawl after repeated, side-by-side fin displays failed to establish dominance:

Dragonet fight! Morrison's Dragonet, Synchiropus morrisoni


A Sea Pen Crab watches the world go by:

Porcelain crab on a sea pen

We’ll be back later this week with Part 2 of our Lembeh 2015 Portfolio.