March really turned out to be a great month for sightings of some of the more rare critters we have here in Lembeh. We have seen the Lembeh Sea Dragon, Wonderpus, Harlequin Shrimps, Tiger Shrimps and we completed the month with an awesome encounter with a beautiful Blue Ringed Octopus.
There are three confirmed species of blue ringed octopuses (Genus Hapalochlaena). You can find these usually solitary creature hiding on sandy or rubble areas. Despite their small size (4-8 inches) and their relatively docile nature, they are one of the worlds most venomous animals – the venom in their bite is powerful enough to kill humans!
The blue rings are usually not visible in the octopus when they are resting. However when they are provoked or feeling threatened its brown patches darken dramatically and the blue rings appear and pulsate.
Russell, one of our guests, was lucky enough to see this critter on only his second dive here in Lembeh! His luck continued to allow him to get this great shot even though there were a few divers all trying to do the same at the same time!!
Anna from Sweden recently sent us a few of the great photos that she took during her stay with us here at Two Fish Divers Lembeh in February 2010.
If you look very closely at the photo of the Saddleback Anemonefish you can see another pair of eyes staring out at you from its mouth! This is a parasitic relationship, where the tiny isopod climbs into the Anemonefish’s mouth and latches onto its tongue. The tongue then dies and the isopod replaces the tongue! The fish continues to live but if you see one looking like it is coughing, then try to get a close-up look into its mouth and you may see one of these little guys looking back at you! Thanks to Bent for enlightening us about the existence of this relationship and of course Anna for the amazing shot!
The Striped Frogfish (Antennarius Striatus ) comes in a couple of different varieties including the Hairy Frogfish, which is shown here. The usually solitary Hairy Frogfish trap their prey with the help of their long worm-like lure, which Anna managed to capture perfectly! You can find them laying in wait for their next victim on sandy or rubble bottoms.
Anna took a beautiful photo of two Mandarinfish (Synchiropus Splendidus) whilst they were doing their mating ritual. Mandarinfish shelter amongst shallow coral rubble areas and only tend to come out of hiding at dusk to spawn!
We have had a great week at Two Fish Lembeh – Wonderpus, Tiger Shrimps, Harlequin Shrimps, Stargazers during the day and to top it all our second Lembeh Sea Dragon sighting this month!!
Karen & Paul , two of our current guests, came back extremely excited from the Mandarin Dive last night. We thought that the Mandarinfish must have been particularly ‘active’ on the dive but when they came running over to the ‘Chill-Out Lounge’ with huge grins on their faces and told us what they had spotted how we all wished we’d been on the dive with them!
As you can see from Karen’s photo, they are extremely small, this one not measuring more than about 2cm in length, hence the other common name for them – Pygmy Pipefish. It is a good photo as you get a good look at its face! Thank you Karen for letting us use it.
Look at what we saw today on our morning dives in the Lembeh Straits!
Opo (our Head Dive Guide) spotted the Harlequin Shrimps and made sure all our guests saw them! The Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera picta or elegans) are often found in pairs, with the female being the larger of the two. They often hide in cracks and crevices and you only tend to see them when they are looking for the next starfish prey. They keep the starfish alive for as long as possible by eating its arms first, leaving the central disk to the end.
Steven (another of our amazing guides) found a tiny pair of Tiger Shrimp (Phyllgnathia ceratophthalmus) hiding in the rubble. Not much is known about this small species as it’s very rarely seen. As you can see their color pattern is unique and distinct. They are really quick to hide and, again, are very rarely seen so the sighting this morning was extremely special!
Thanks again to Gizmo for the great photos.
Since arriving at Two Fish Divers Lembeh in January, we try to go on a house reef dive at least a couple of times a week to see what we have living out there. On one of our first dives with Nigel, he came across a pair of Ornate Ghost Pipefish ( Solenostomus paradoxus) and we are happy to report that we continue to see them on most dives on the house reef.
As you can see from the photos the larger female of the two pipefish is aerating her eggs and on a recent dive ( unfortunately without the camera) we had seen that the eggs have now been released – so lets hope soon we’ll have lots of Ornate Ghost Pipefish living on our house reef!!
The Ornate Ghost Pipefish can be recognized by its distinctive body form – with thin appendages off its body and fins. Its coloration can vary from almost totally black to almost semi-transparent with red, yellow and white scribbling, spots and blotches. They tend to be found in protected areas, in particular hiding in above crinoids, black corals and gorgonian fans and due to their clever camouflage they are often over looked! They feed mostly on mysids and benthic shrimp.
There is evidence to that suggest Ghost Pipefish settle as males and later, dependent on social and environmental conditions, some will change into females. This change starts a growth spurt and the development of brooding pouch which can hold up to 300 eggs and larvae.
Thanks to Gizmo for some great photos!