This week’s diving in Bunaken had something for both macro fans and lovers of big marine life – our guests saw Pontohi Pygmy Seahorses as well as increasing numbers of Spotted Eagle Rays.
Thanks to our eagle-eyed dive guides Frankli and Fenly, Mads from Denmark managed to get the fabulous shot for this blog. These miniature seahorses are fairly rare and we don’t have a lot of information about them. They’ve been spotted in (eastern) Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
One of the things we do know is that they prefer living on large reef walls that are exposed to currents and rich in certain species of hydroids where these tiny creatures – up to 1.7 cm long – can hide. Accordingly, Bunaken is just about the perfect habitat. Food-wise, these tiny carnivores live on even smaller crustaceans and plankton.
If you are lucky enough to spot a Pontohi Pygmy looking very pregnant with a particularly big belly, you’re actually looking at the male of the species. He broods each fertilized in his pouch until they are ready to hatch. Once they are fully grown, the seahorse pups leave the pouch and are immediately autonomous.
So whilst Mads was busy playing with his macro lens, Finnish guest Tatu, also equipped with a camera, spent some of his time looking into the blue and was rewarded with not one, not two, but three eagle rays on one dive alone! Over the next few days, Tatu spotted more eagle rays and PADI Open Water course students Alina and Eli were lucky, too: they saw an eagle ray on their second ever dive. What’s more, it wasn’t just a quick fly-by, but the ray came from behind to catch up with them, drifted past only about five meters away, took a long look and eventually turned around to go back the way he came. What a way to start your diving life!