Lembeh Strait, Indonesia ~ Juvenile Red Emperor Snappers, Lutjanus sebae, are not that uncommon here – we almost always find a few tiny juveniles nestled down in the spines of the Radiant Sea Urchins. They shelter there until they are ready to move to deep water to live out their lives as much larger and less colorful adults. In 2006, we were lucky enough to find a small group that had grown enough to start venturing out from the protection … Read more All Snappers, All the Time
Bali, Indonesia – March 2012 We have this image of a lovely juvenile sole thanks to our friend Mark Willis who found it on a muck slope while the rest of us were photographing nudibranchs and a cool blenny. He had shown it to Ned and several others in our group but by the time I got there, it was lost. Mark showed me the image on the back screen of his digital camera; my pantomimed “knife to my heart” … Read more Mimicry: The Sole and the Flatworm
Bali, Indonesia March 2012 ~ I am certain I just saw a coral move across the sand. I don’t have time to stop because I am swimming rapidly to keep up with Ned and our guide Eddy, but now I’m paying more attention to the individual corallites, scattered over the otherwise empty expanse of black sand. There are hundreds of them, spaced from inches to a few feet apart and when I see a second one move, I have to … Read more Walking Coral
Update October 2014: I first heard of Kopi Luwak in 1999, when our chef friend asked me to try to find it for him when we visited Indonesia. As related in my post below, it was nowhere to be found in the areas of Indonesia where we traveled until after it was made popular by a movie. Since this 2012 post, I have seen many articles online about the poor treatment of civets; including taking them from the wild and … Read more Kopi Luwak … At Last!
Graysbys are small Caribbean seabasses that are fairly solitary. We noticed that they are much more active during the same week that the corals spawn and it is a good time to see fighting fish action. Some times they lunged at each other, sometimes they just stared each other down, then one or the other would take off to join a waiting fish, presumably a female. We were fairly certain the battles were territorial wars connected to spawning activities, but … Read more Grumpy Graysbys
Bonaire, 2008 – The juvenile French Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru, had taken up residence in a piece of wreckage, turning the unsightly structure into a cleaning station – a location that fish know they can visit to have parasites removed. Shrimps and fishes that make their living picking parasites and injured tissue from other fish are known as cleaners. We knelt in the sand for about half an hour, watching bar jacks buzz in for a quick visit. The angelfish … Read more Cute Fish Video: French Angelfish
Ambon Indonesia, April 2011 – Dark, murky water; volcanic rubble; no coral – we have been working our way to this site since the start of our dive cruise that began near Batanta, Indonesia two weeks ago. The areas we visit so far have stunningly beautiful coral reefs – full of fish, but the critter hunter in me unapologetically waits for my real target: Ambon’s Laha Pier, a.k.a., the Twilight Zone. This site has been serving up exotic critters since … Read more Ambon: Colorful Muck
Bonaire, 2009 – A jawfish releasing its eggs – we finally got the shot – and it only took fifteen years! We fell in love with jawfish back in 1995 when we were working on the Reef Fish Behavior book. In fact, the first magazine article that Ned and I wrote together for Ocean Realm magazine was about Yellowhead Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons (a scanned copy of the 1995 article is available here.) We wrote an article about jawfishes in the … Read more Hatching Jawfish!
Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, March 2011 – I recently posted about my love/obsession with Striped Catfish, Plotosus lineatus. The video that accompanies that post includes clips of soapfish, jacks and even a lionfish feeding alongside the rolling ball of catfish; taking advantage of the disturbance. Ned just rolls his eyes whenever he sees me following yet another swarm. That’s why I was surprised when one of our dive buddies came flying down the reef, gesturing for me to swim back toward … Read more A Case of Mimicry: Jacks with Catfish
Sea of Cortez, 2002 – We chartered a six-passenger liveaboard dive boat for a week to explore the area just outside La Paz. The captain/owner was just getting started and didn’t know the sites all that well, but was willing to explore, so our dives ranged from all out flops to some real winners. The mangrove lagoon off Isla San Jose, described by John Steinbeck in his classic Sea of Cortez, proved to be the perfect place for critter hunting … Read more Blenny Bonanza