This week in Lembeh we’re having a Ghost Pipefish bonanza! The dive sites have gone crazy with them and we’ve seen all of the species known to this area.
With up to seven on one dive site by far the highest number we’ve seen is the Ornate Ghost Pipefish, also known as the Harlequin Ghost Pipefish. This spiky looking variation camouflages with hydroid and feather stars most commonly and matches it in both colour and texture. We see them in black, yellow (pictured), white, red, orange and gold colour variations, and pretty much all of those colours have been spotted on our dives this week as well as transparent juveniles.
Next up we have the Robust Ghost Pipefish which we have seen in the common brown colour variation as well as the less often seen green variation (pictured). These mimic seagrass in colour and movement, often proving a challenging photo subject as they waft like the blades of seagrass in and out of the view finder! We’ve also seen quite a few Delicate Ghost Pipefish which are often mis-identified as Robusts as they have the same leaf-like appearance. They can be defined though by a slightly more transparent appearance and a jagged or broken looking tail fin, compared to the solid tail fin of the Robust. Delicate Ghost Pipefish are also known as Slender or Thin Ghost Pipefish.
The Hairy Ghost Pipefish is a variation of the Rough-snout, and there is debate as to whether it is it’s own species. It is so called because of the red hair-like filaments on it’s body… It is a rare and sought after species and we were happy to find a pair this week!
By far the most sought after and rare Ghost Pipefish are the Halimeda and Velvet Ghost Pipefish, they were found to be living on the same dive site this week much to our delight! Ghost Pipefish usually stay for an extended period in one place (a coupe of months in some cases) and they seem to pop-up on the same dive sites year after year, but sadly these special variations often only hang around for a couple of weeks, so we have to get in there fast! Halimeda Ghost Pipefish are so called because their appearance closely matches that of the Halimeda Seagrass, even down to the white edges of the green leaves and red algae filaments! The Velvet Ghost Pipefish can be white, pale pink (pictured) to cerise or lilac in colour and mimic a pink sponge, these have not yet been studied scientifically as far as we know. We’ve had a lucky year for the Velvets as we have had five different sightings so far, quite often we only see them twice or three times in a year!
All Ghost Pipefish photos here are courtesy of Phil Ayres 🙂
If Ghost Pipefish aren’t your thing, don’t fear… We’ve seen an enormous amount of Seahorses and Coconut Octopus this week! Other special finds have been the Hairy Frogfish, Coleman’s Shrimp, Lembeh Ocellated Frogfish, Blue Ringed Octopus, Starry Night Octopus, Lembeh Sea Dragon, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Wunderpus, Hairy Shrimp, Bobbit Worm, Clown Frogfish and many more!