Ambon, Indonesia, April 2013 ~ I don’t know what made me touch the little piece of tufted algae – At that moment, I should have been concerned with surfacing and getting myself back to the tender waiting off the beach in the raging rainstorm that had started up while we were diving. But touch it I did and with a jerk, it bolted up off the bottom and started writhing through the water. It was a Melibe nudibranch and one … Read more Another Melibe!
Universal Truth of Blenny Watching #1: The desirability of the blenny is inversely proportional to the conditions in which one must dive to see/photograph it. Longhorn Blenny? High on our list and took two 90-minute dives in surge to get the shots (see last year’s post here). A blenny with eggs? Seaweed blennies are pretty common in Florida, but the Seaweed Blenny with eggs was in 72-degree water with 3-foot visibility (see that post here). So why would I even … Read more Hello Molly!
Update~January 24, 2015: Lynne’s Pipefish has been formally described as Festucalex rufus. The paper appears in the journal, aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, 21 (1): 47-51: “Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. (2015): Festucalex rufus, a new species of pipefish (Syngnathidae) from Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea” April 2013, Indonesia ~ There is great excitement this morning – Claire Davies has surfaced reporting that she has seen “Lynne’s Pipefish”, so now there is no question where we’ll be making the … Read more Lynne’s Pipefish
April 2013, Halmahera, Indonesia ~ More soft coral mimics! Back in November, I posted a video of a nudibranch, Phyllodesmium rudmani, that mimics the soft coral, Xenia, upon which it feeds (click here to see the previous post). Ned wasn’t with me on that dive so last month, during our cruise through Halmahera aboard the Dewi Nusantara, our guide Yann made sure Ned saw this different species of nudibranch, which I think is Phyllodesmium jakobsenae, another predator of soft coral. … Read more Another Coral Mimic
January, 2013 ~ We are rock turners. Ned figures it takes about a 1,000 rocks to score a hit by uncovering some rare or unusual animal. Just offshore small villages or under piers, where we often dive, the hunt involves more trash than rocks but whatever we are turning over, it is exciting to uncover some cool crab or worm or my current favorite, a stomatellid. Our dive guide Denny discovered the 2-inch Papery Stomatella, pictured above, when he picked up … Read more Stomatellids!
Lembeh Strait, Indonesia ~ October 2012 Here is one of my favorite examples of mimicry in fishes: a Striped Fangblenny (Meiacanthus grammistes) model and its mimic, a juvenile bream, Scolopsis bilineatus. Neither fish is that uncommon on the Indo-Pacific reefs where we dive but this was the first time I took the time to follow a little Bridled Monocle Bream to see if it would lead me to the blenny that it is known to mimic. The relationship of this bream … Read more Mimicry: The Blenny and the Bream
November 2012 ~ We have just returned from a cruise aboard the Dewi Nusantara around Batanta and Waigeo, two islands in the Raja Ampat region of eastern Indonesia. If I had to rank my top 10 favorite dives of all time, I would include a 2007 night dive off Batanta when we saw this frogfish, Lophiocharon sp., with her clutch of eggs. The only divers still in the water after a two-hour dive, we were on our way back to … Read more Frogfish with Eggs
November 2012 ~ Blennywatcher is still on the road and delighted to report that we’ve managed to add quite a few species to our life lists during this cruise around Batanta, Indonesia, including this nudibranch, Rudman’s Phyllodesmium (Phyllodesmium rudmani). Nudibranchs are sea slugs, shell-less marine snails; a group that includes some of the most colorful and beautiful invertebrates on the reef. This is one that we’ve long wanted to see. Our guide, Yan Alfian seemed pretty confident that we’d see … Read more Nudibranch Mimics Soft Coral
October, 2012 ~ Aboard the Dewi Nusantara, Blennywatcher is circumnavigating the island of Batanta, one of the four main islands of the Indonesian region known as Raja Ampat. This is the eighth year that we have dived in this area but the first with an itinerary that would keep us almost entirely around one island. Because of its proximity to Sorong, the starting and/or ending point for most liveaboard dive boats, Batanta is almost always on every itinerary but I … Read more Postcard from Batanta: 100 Hornbills