Here in Lembeh we have a variety of fascinating creatures under the water. Some of the most interesting are the Pipefish.
Pipefish are closely related to Seahorses and Seadragons and are often observed as a straight bodied seahorse. Their bodies are long and slender and have a similarly distinguished snout. They all have a dorsal fin but the lack of ventral fins means they are very slow swimmers. They can be found sliding across the bottom of the sea bed or across rocks and coral, using their dorsal fins as their primary method of propulsion. Like seahorses, some pipefish have developed a prehensile tail, using this to hold on to sea grass to keep themselves steady.
Some of the most common pipefish we see in Lembeh are the Stick Pipefish, Reeftop Pipefish, Banded Pipefish and Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse. Of particular interest are banded pipefish, not only due to their often striking colours but due to the fact you can often see them carrying their eggs. They attach their eggs to the underside of their belly and eagle eyed divers and photographers can see this clear strip of orange on a large portion of these pipefish.
The most fantastic pipefish you can come across in Lembeh are the Ghost Pipefish. These are not true Pipefish but rather a close relative of them. The ghostpipefish live on sandy rubble floors and among some reef systems. They float upside down in the water column and catch small crustaceans with their snouts as they drift by.
The Ornate Ghostpipefish (or Harlequin Ghostpipefish) is perhaps the most striking species that can be found. They are found in red, black, white and green colourations and the juveniles are almost transparent, making them a popular photography subject. They have these filament like protrusions which offer perfect camouflage against feather stars.
Robust ghostpipefish are spotted on a fairly common basis despite their perfect camouflage. They the same shape and size of sea grass and they also mimic the seagrass in its behaviour as well. These pipefish sway back and forth in the surge just as the grass does and they are very seldom seen swimming. This means they are often missed by unsuspecting divers who could easily just swim over them without a second glance!
The smallest ghostpipefish is also one of the hardest to find. This is the Halimeda ghostpipefish. These fish like to hide either among coral or in halimeda seagrass where they get their name from. Their bodies are perfectly matched to their surroundings and are predominately green in colour with a few white patches as well as some small red filaments. Their motionless behaviour makes them near impossible to spot in dense seagrass. A fantastic find for everyone!