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Masters of disguise

Well, as Lembeh must be the frogfish capital of the world, and frogfish are some of my favourite critters, I think that frogfish actually merits another blog entry. So here it is.

Juvenile painted frogfish

Frogfish are probably most known for their built in bait, an illicium or “fishing rod” that is topped with the esca, the worm- or shrimplike lure it self. The illicium and esca are formed from the foremost rays of the anterior dorsal fin, and can be moved in different directions in front of the mouth when prey comes close enough.

Striated frogfish using its lure

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae in the order Lophiiformes, which among others also include the supercool deep water anglerfish with lures that are shining with light. With a few exceptions, the most notable being the Sargasso frogfish, frogfish are mostly shallow water fish, living among rubble, sea weed, coral heads and other underwater structures that can aid the frogfish in hiding their outline from prey and predators.

Orange painted frogfish in orange sponge

In Lembeh strait a number of species are found. I have seen eight or nine species in Lembeh, but there are probably one or two more around.

Scarlet frogfish. I think.

Frogfish are notoriously hard to determine to species. Many species come in different colors, so color is at best a weak clue to what they are. Colors seem to change with background, making camouflage excellent, but on the other hand not helping very much in species determination.

Probably a spotfin frogfish

A combination of habitat, body shape, and, maybe most important, characteristics of the lure can most often be used to at last narrow it down to a couple of likely names. A few, however, such as the hairy frogfish with it´s wormlike lure and the warty frogfish with it´s warty exterior are very characteristic and often easy to name. Others, such as the hispid, the painted and the giant (also called Commersons) frogfish are not to hard to determine if the lure is visible.

Probably giant frogfish

Then there are a number of frogfish with lures that are hard to see and quite similar markings that I find pretty hard to determine to species underwater.

Well, it is a frogfish! More than that, I have no idea.

And finally, Lembeh is home to at least one undescribed species, which has not been named by scientists yet.

An undescribed frogfish. Isn´t that cool!

The lure of the frogfish indicates that frogfish are specializing on fish as prey. With a few exceptions, fish is exactly what frogfish eat. When a small fish comes close to the frogfish, the lure is waved in an enticing way in front of the mouth of the frogfish. The prey fish will often be conned into believing that it is the luckiest day in its life, which most often is the last feeling the prey fish will have. When the prey comes close enough, the frogfish extends its enormous mouth, inhaling a lot of water and a small, and highly likely very surprised, fish. The mouth movement of the frogfish is so quick that scientists have problems explaining how that speed is even possible.

Large volume of striated frogfish mouth

The teeth of frogfish are very pointed and directed backwards towards the interior of the mouth. Thus, anything caught by a frogfish will have a really hard time escaping, while the direction of the teeth will allow the frogfish to move the prey inside the mouth. Frogfish are extremely elastic, being able to swallow prey as large as themselves.

Teeth of hispid frogfish

Frogfish have three ways of moving. First, like most fish, they can swim through the water column using their caudal fin. They can also use a water jet by expelling water through the small gill openings behind the pelvic fins. Finally, frogfish can more or less gallop over sandy bottoms, in a rather ungraceful running motion resembling what a cross between a sea lion, a football and a horse would look like in full speed.

Speeding striated frogfish

So, now I am of running an ecology/photo course in the Red sea. Those of you that follow this series will probably have the next entry available in a couple of weeks.

Juvenile striated frogfish. Quite cute!

Underwater Tribe Photo Workshop

Mike Veitch and Luca Vaime along with NAD Lembeh Resort are proud to announce our First Annual “Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Photo Workshop” on 15-20th April 2013.  This five night package is the perfect opportunity for you to learn photography from some of the worlds top underwater photography instructors while diving in the worlds premiere muck diving location!  Join a group of like minded photo students at NAD Lembeh Resort and participate in our “Photography from A-Z” workshop where we include everything from the basics of underwater photography up to and including “advanced tips from the pros”.  This workshop style week is perfect for everyone from beginners to experienced photographers who are looking for tips to take them to the next level.  Topics covered include:  “Understanding F-stops, Shutter Speed, and ISO”, “Using Strobes Underwater”, “Composition”, and “Creating a Workflow that Works”.  As the week progresses we will discuss: Playing with Light, Diving with a Model, and Super Macro. Each student will receive one on one photo critiquing of the days dives in order to understand what went right and what went wrong.  We will also dive “one on one” with each participant in order to help with strobe positioning and camera settings underwater.


The daily schedule will include two morning boat dives followed by lunch, a photo seminar, and an afternoon boat or shore dive.  During the evenings we will work with individual students in order to critique their images of the day and present multi media presentations after dinner.   Working closely with NADs top notch dive guides, we will find and photography the best that Lembeh Strait has to offer.

There are limited spaces available for this trip so please sign up soon for your chance to join us on this fun filled and educational trip to “the critter capital of the world, Lembeh Strait”!

For pricing details, further information, and booking please visit  http://www.facebook.com/underwatertribe  or send an email to info@underwatertribe.com

Tom’s Photo Class Gallery

Tom joined us from Jakarta for a couple of days to familiarise himself with his new camera setup – a Canon G12  with Inon S2000 strobe.  Tom was looking for greater consistency in his shots and an understanding of how to control the features of his new setup to get what he wants.

Whilst this blog is normally filled with dSLR shots from people staying for a long time we hope you find Toms photos interesting, shot over 3 1/2 diving days with 4 dives with Simon on days 2 and 4. In the end he was achieving good colour and was able to control the lighting for various situations, all whilst using Aperture Priority.  Tom will be back later in the year for a course on Manual Mode, so we’ll see you again soon, Tom.

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Guest Video shot at NAD

Below is a movie shot by one of our repeater guests EunJae here in the Lembeh Strait, he shot the movie using a Canon 7D in a Nauticam housing with tripod and L&M Sola 1200 Video Lights. As you can see he has a thing for Hairy Shrimps.

To see more of EJ’s work visit www.ejlabs.net

Macro Bonanza with Underwater.kr

Group of Underwater Photographers at NAD Lembeh

This picture s a group shot of the Underwater.kr “Macro Bonanza” – an underwater photo event oranized by EunJae of Underwater.kr together with Kay Burn Lim. They are a mixed group from Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. And these guys are really into their toys and our camera room is packed with housings, cameras, strobes, tripods, snoots and other gadgets. For this shot we lined some of their gear and triggered the strobes in slave mode for that lighting effect.

Cool Video shot at NAD Lembeh Housereef

Yesterday afternoon and evening Simon took his Sony EX1 Video Camera on 2 housereef dives here at NAD Lembeh. He had Century Diopters mounted on his Sealux housing for extra magnification (2 stacked on the afternoon and one on the nightdive). Watch this short clip with some of the critters he found – just a small selection of the cool stuff we are finding there these days …

Since Simon and Zee had their Baby, Simon hasn’t been diving much – and if, then he mostly used a Canon EOS 7 in his Nauticam housing. Only this week he started getting ready his Sealux to shoot video again. After not having used it for a while (a long while), the battery pack of the monitor did not work anymore. But he really wanted to use it, so he started a late night soldering session in our office – until everything workes flawlessly again 😉

A fixed Camera and a happy Baby

This is Bella – Simon’s Daughter. And Bella is very happy with her new present that came this week per mail:  “Sophie Giraffe”. Thank you very much to Peter de Maagt and Corinne for this little present.

Peter is an Underwater Photographer that regularly publishes is the Dutch diving magazine “Duiken” – and therefore needs his camera equipment to be functional on his trips. When he arrived here at NAD Lembeh coming from Manado the nightmare happened: A problem with the inside of the Nikonos Bulkhead on his Sea&Sea housing. So the strobes did not fire anymore. Luckily Simon could fix the broken strobe connection with some hours of work and a soldering iron and make Peters camera work again … we hope he took home some good shots for future publications!