Pantar, Indonesia, 2006 – I have said it many times: Not a fan of night diving. Our liveaboard dive boat was anchored in Beangabang Bay and only three of us, plus our guide, Made, were diving. Several years earlier, I had seen a pearlfish during a night dive in Lembeh Strait, but it was at the very end of a two-hour dive so all I got was a 3 second clip before the camera battery expired. I spotted this one … Read more Cool Fish Video: Pearlfish
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
Indonesia (2004) – We spent the better part of 4 days in a shallow grass bed watching a shoal of squid mating and laying eggs down in the grass. We could not predict when they would show up and even more frustrating, they would spook and disappear for anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes. This made for a lot of time underwater, just waiting. During the long waits, I amused myself by watching an anemonefish bury itself into its host anemone … Read more If I Can’t See You…
Bonaire – I needed video of schools of fish to illustrate a teaching point for a REEF fish identification class so we headed to a site with known schools of Smallmouth Grunts, Haemulon chrysargyreum. The grunts normally drift sedately in small schools but today there seemed to be a troublemaker in the group. Every time I approached, one fish would panic and send the whole school fleeing. When I looked up from my viewfinder, I realized the culprit was a … Read more Fish Grows New Tail
Sulawesi, Indonesia – Ned was working on a slide presentation, so I buddied up with our friend Jessica Hatsfelt for the afternoon dive. The boat moored in the center of a small sandy bay that had very little in the way of critter habitat – only an occasional small patch of sea grass. Hanny, our Eco Divers guide, led us over the sand and along a slope, pausing for a pipefish and nudibranch or two until we ended … Read more Ride ‘Em Frogfish!
Part of getting ready for a dive trip is assembling our “hit list” of species we might encounter. A lot of our luck in finding unusual or rare species comes from knowing in advance, what is even possible. In 1999, on our first trip to Lembeh Strait, Jeremy Barnes showed us a pair of Pegasus Sea Moths, Eurypegasus draconis, puttering around the black sand slope at the dive site, Nudi Retreat. I was totally unprepared – had no idea such … Read more Life List: Slender Sea Moth
Final thoughts from my 2011 blenny files plus a video from my 2004 archives: We have had a long-running discussion with some of our fishwatching friends about the Starksia blennies, in particular the ones we see in Bonaire. Are they Dwarf (S. nanodes) or Ringed (S. hassi) blennies? Some didn’t seem to fit any description that we knew. In early 2011, the Smithsonian Institution’s Dr. Carole Baldwin and coauthors, published a paper, Seven new species within western Atlantic Starksia atlantica, S. … Read more 2011 Blenny Wrap-up
The email came on a Friday morning two weeks ago. It was a chatty note from our friend Judy, one of the Blue Heron Bridge Mucksters. “Right now we are seeing seaweed blennies with eggs, cardinal fish with eggs, and seahorses.” Oh, Oh, Oh! Blennies with eggs have been on my hit list forever. I spent many dives this year in Dominica, Bonaire and at the Bridge looking for looking for Redlip (Ophioblennius macclurei) or Seaweed (Parablennius marmoreus) blenny males, … Read more Blenny Fever