To the surprise and delight of our divers, one of the rarest octopus in the Strait, the Hairy Octopus, graced us with his delightfully-playful presence this week. There also continues to be an excess of Juvenile Frogfish on the reef, in all colors, species and sizes. Everyone from super macro photographers to compact shooters will be taking home an incredible selection of Frogfish photos! Add the Halemeida Ghostpipefish sighting to the mix, and it was quite the eventful week of diving!
Divemaster in Training Lily was fascinated by the Shrimpgobys and their Snapping Shrimp counterparts in Lembeh this week. The Shrimpgoby lives alongside a nearly blind Snapping Shrimp in a burrow and provides the vulnerable shrimp with the protection of “eyesight”. The bull-dozing shrimp provides the Shrimpgoby with a clean burrow as it spends its days cleaning out their home. Any time it leaves the burrow the Shrimp maintains physical contact with its watchful Shrimpgoby. At the first sign of danger, a single flick of the Shrimpgoby’s tail sends them both diving for safety back into their manicured burrow.
It’s not often that a guest is able to show an experienced dive guide something new in Lembeh, but leave it to John Hoover to take on that challenge! Hoover, the authoritative word on Hawaiian fish and critter life, brought Flasher Wrasse Fever to Lembeh this week as he shared his excitement for this beautiful animal at meals, on the boat, and underwater. Who knew that Nudi Falls is teeming with one of the most beautiful fish in the sea? Not a single one of us at Two Fish Lembeh! We were too busy scanning the weeds and rubble for hidden wonders such as Rhinopias, cryptic Frogfish and tiny Nudibranch to notice the plethora of Flashers chasing about.
It is not often that Bryozoans and Echinoderms are highly sought after in Lembeh, but this week’s visiting Marine Biologists, Simi and Basti, couldn’t get enough of them! The Bryozoan is a collection of tiny, invertebrate marine animals that live in large colonies. These tiny animal colonies create beautiful structures that are big enough to house fellow reef creatures. The Lacey Bryozoan (pictured) made headline marine news of recent when a new species of Goby, Shrimp and Crab were discovered living inside of it. Extremely cryptic animals, and localized to a select few regions of Indonesia, the Bryozoan Goby is the most recent “newly discovered animal” that Lembeh has to offer.
Much to the surprise and delight of our Two Fish Divers, the rare and beautiful Velvet Ghostpipefish made an appearance in Lembeh this week! Though we are accustomed to seeing Ornate and Robust Ghostpipefish with some regularity, the Velvet Ghostpipefish is rarely encountered. Its bright red coloration might make you question its ability to camouflage, but in reality it does a beautiful job of impersonating a common red sponge that grows throughout Lembeh. Next on our wish list is a Halimeda Ghostpipefish sighting, which is just as rarely encountered as the Velvet. The Halimeda Ghostpipefish lives up to its name by impersonating Halimeda algae, and it just as fascinating as its beautiful Velvet cousin.
We had a successful Rhinopias hunt this week at Two Fish Lembeh!
Third time return guest David heard that there were some recent Rhinopias sightings in Lembeh, and it was his goal to see one. Just as his no-deco time was getting low on his first morning-dive back in the Strait, he spotted a big, beautiful, Weedy Rhinopias (Rhinopias frondosa). Though Rhinopias are common in a select few dive destinations, Lembeh is not one of them. Because of their relative rarity in Lembeh, they are a highly sought after sighting for divers and photographers alike. But the hunt is not over yet! Word in the Strait is that there is a second, smaller Rhinopias nearby. David, and all the dive guides, will continue the hunt all week!
Sometimes it’s the simple Lembeh critters that excite people the most!
This week at Two Fish Lembeh, Emperor Shrimp, Blue-Dragon Nudibranch and territorial Anemonefish are the main topics of conversation at the dinner table. And rightfully so! Though common to Lembeh, these crazy critters are not so common in other areas of the world.
Interested in seeing a variety of Octopus in Lembeh? The best way to catch the most variety is to vary your dive schedule. The morning dives are the best time to see Reef, Mimic and Coconut Octopus. Mimic Octopus sightings are well sought after due to the animal’s unique ability to imitate venomous animals when threatened. The Mimic Octopus plays an amazing game of charades and can convincingly mimic venomous Lionfish, Banded Sea Snakes and Banded Soles in its attempt to scare off potential predators. And though it is our most commonly encountered Octopus, the Coconut Octopus is not to be dismissed! The right individual can be endless entertainment as it plays peek-a-boo and shows off it’s attachment issues as it runs across the reef holding a house of shells or coconut husk!
Lembeh’s Divesite Police Pier is known for its plethora of Pipefish (alongside it’s spawning Mandarinfish and fantastic Frogfish population). This week one of the Banded Pipefish found itself in a slightly awkward situation when it got a bit to close to a hungry Ribbon Eel. Luckily, the Ribbon Eel immediately realized that the physics of his meal was simply too complicated and let the Pipefish go without so much as a scratch. If you look closely at the underside of the fish you can see that the Pipefish is carrying eggs. As it turns out, a whole generation of Banded Pipefish was spared!
Bobbit Worm sightings in Lembeh night dives are not uncommon, but this week’s Bobbit Worm sighting was ridiculously cool! Our guests came across two different Bobbit Worms that were both spewing white gunk into the water column. Thinking it was a defense mechanism, the divers were annoyed that it “screwed up their photo opportunity”. Little did they know, these Bobbit Worms were spawning, which is an extremely rare sight in Lembeh! Bobbit Worms are broadcast spawners, which means that Bobbit Worms release their sperm and eggs into the water column all at the same time, resulting in successful fertilization within the water column (rather than within the animal).
It has been a Frogfish Frenzy in Lembeh this week! From big to small, from Hairy to Warty, from orange to black, and mated to single, I think we’ve seen a bit of it all! It hasn’t been only the variety of Frogfish that has impressed our Two Fish divers, but also the behaviors. Many of the Frogfish have been very active, awkwardly moving about the reef, chasing one another, chasing our divers (true story!), yawning and luring. Once again, Lembeh proves to be a Frogfish paradise!
Hatching Flamboyant Cuttlefish, one of the famous critters in Lembeh, greeted eighteenth-time repeat guest Nicole this week! She says she keeps coming back to Lembeh time and again because there is always something new to see! The tiny, squirmy, Flamboyant Cuttlefish were encased in eggs that had been laid in an overturned coconut husk. The white eggs turned nearly clear when the baby Flamboyants were ready to hatch. The 8mm juveniles instantly took on their full Flamboyant coloration as they squirmed free of their eggs and began hunting for food in the sand.
It was an exciting week in Lembeh as Martin, a first time visitor to Lembeh, asked his girlfriend, Carola to marry him! He hired Two Fish Lembeh’s transport boat to take the two of them to a beautiful, private white-sand beach where they went for a long, romantic walk before asking the Big Question. She said “Yes”, of course, which makes Lembeh a very memorable place for the both of them! A huge congratulations to Martin and Carola from the whole Two Fish Divers crew.
Whether you are a first timer or have been here numerous times before, an encounter with a Mimic Octopus in Lembeh is bound to enchant and fascinate you! The Mimic Octopus was named after its unique ability to imitate venomous animals, providing it with some semblance of defense in an otherwise soft and tasty, defenseless body. Discovered only 15 years ago, the Mimic Octopus created quite a stir in the scientific community for being the first of its kind to go beyond traditional camouflage as a form of defense.
We want to welcome Scott and Robyn to the Two Fish Lembeh Management Team, and as semi-pro photographers they promise to help you improve your Underwater Photography Skills!
“TK II” is our featured Lembeh Dive Site of the Month. All black-sand, algae growth and desolate landscape, Teluk Kembahu II is definitely not one of Lembeh’s prettier dive sites. But does that old trick really fool anyone anymore? When we take a closer look at TKII it comes alive; it is absolutely overflowing with some of Lembeh’s coolest critters!
Looking to take an Underwater Photography Course in order to improve your photography skills on your next trip to Lembeh?
Divemaster in Training Tristan Stafford took Scott’s Digital Underwater Photography course this week, with amazing results! Here’s a wonderful account of his experience…
We have been seeing a fascinating variety of Phyllodesmium Nudibranchs when diving in Lembeh this week. This beautiful and widely varying species of nudibranch is commonly referred to as “Solar-Powered” because of its unique relationship to the algae it ingests.
We have been witness to some very interesting reproductive behavior amongst Cephalopods when diving in Lembeh this week. Both Cuttlefish and Reef Squid have all been putting on quite the show! These two beautiful Crinoid Cuttlefish (distinguished by the spotted pattern on their lower arms) were caught mating beneath the overhangs of a colorful sponge, and were so caught up in the activity at hand that they didn’t seem to notice the gathering crowd of divers.
“Are the Flamboyant Cuttlefish in Lembeh Venomous or Poisonous? What about the Blue Ring Octopus, and the Spiny Devilfish: Venomous or Poisonous?”
These are commonly asked critter-questions at Two Fish Lembeh, especially during weeks like these when all of the above mentioned animals are making a regular appearance. Apparently the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is poisonous, not venomous, and the Blue Ring Octopus and Spiny Devilfish are both venomous. The difference between venomous animals and poisonous animals is how their toxin is delivered.
A variety of Harlequins have made an appearance in Lembeh this week. Harlequin Shrimp, Harlequin Swimming Crabs and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish have been keeping our photographers and recreational divers busily entertained! Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans) are a highly sought-after sight in Lembeh, and are often found near their favorite food source: the blue Linkia Sea Star. Harlequin Shrimp feed on Linkia Star tube feet; they remove each tasty foot with their tweezer-like claws before cutting into the Sea Star and consuming it further. A few lucky Sea Stars are able to shed an arm when the Harlequin Shrimp first begin to feed, but others are not so lucky. Harlequin Shrimp have been known to slowly consume a living Sea Star for many days, sometimes going so far as to feed their Sea Star in order to prolong the life of their food source!
“Do you ever see “Madonna’s Bra” in Lembeh?” a guest asked at the Two Fish dinner table this week. After finally figuring out what exactly the guest was referring to, a whole conversation about hilarious critter names ensued. As it turns out, “Madonna’s Bra” is the common name for the rarely encountered Platyctene Ctenophore (pronounced “teen-a-for”). Though it resembles a sea slug as it attaches to the seabed, Madonna’s Bra is not in fact a sea slug at all. Similar to other animals in its Comb Jelly phylum, two stinging tentacles protrude from each mound of the “bra”. When unsuspecting planktonic animals get ensnared in the tentacles of the Ctenophore, the tasty morsel is drawn into the body of the animal for consumption.
This week’s fascination with brooding shrimp in Lembeh caused us to look a bit more closely into shrimp relationships. It all started with one simple question from a guest: are female shrimp bigger than the males? According to our Tropical Pacific Reef Creature Identification guide (Humann and Deloach), you can often times distinguish the gender of a shrimp based on its living arrangement, but not necessarily by its size. For example, if you happen upon a single set of shrimp, such as the beautiful Coleman’s Shrimp pictured above, you can assume that the larger of the two shrimp is the female.
Go on: take a guess! What type of Frogfish do you think this is?
Surprisingly, it is an Antennarius striatus, or what is commonly referred to as a Hairy Frogfish. As it turns out the Hairy Frogfish comes in all hair lengths in Lembeh, including extremely short hair! Since this is a little known fact amongst our guests, this cool little critter caused a bit of a stir when it was spotted as a mated couple to a long-haired Hairy Frogfish. The guests were sure they were witnessing “inter-species” coupling!
What does a guest who has visited Two Fish Lembeh 17 times over the past 6 years find new and fascinating on her current visit to the area? Ornate Ghost Pipefish that are carrying eggs! Her excitement, in turn, has made all the guests a bit more interested in the reproductive lives of Lembeh’s Pipefish…