Archive for the ‘Creature Feature’ Category

Spot The Difference

These two Shrimpgobies are very similar, and if you aren’t paying much attention you will dismiss them as being the same.

These are two of my favourite critters, and i consider them a connoisseur’s choice when people make their wishlist for Lembeh.  They are very hard to shoot until you hit Zen mode and all the wildlife starts ignoring you, add to that once you scare them you have to wait 5 minutes minimum for them to come out of their hole again – it can eat up your divetime quite quickly.

The big give away between the two is the dorsal fin, and you will also notice that thier behaviour is a little different – the Yellownose has a cool way of displaying to show it’s territory.

Yellownose Shrimp Goby

Yellownose Shrimp Goby

Black-Ray Shrimpgoby

Black-Ray Shrimpgoby


Little Green Hairy Shrimp Video

Little Green Shrimp

Little Green Shrimp

I did one dive on New Years Day, and I found this little guy:

This shrimp was first found by one of my guides in 2011, and amazingly enough it has evaded me until yesterday.  Every-time I have dropped in on a site where they had a confirmed sighting, it has moved.  Or one time the guides found it when I was on a dive, I had a deco stop and it was too deep :(.

As far as I am aware, this has completed everything i could see here in Lembeh, now I just need to see them all again and get better photos!

A special thanks to our dive-team, I can say without doubt that they are the best in the area.  As a team they all help each other and they all have different strengths which complement each other.

Anyway, here is the video, hopefully see you sometime in 2013:

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Marine family ties

A number of marine animals do occur in families. Maybe not in the sense we usually use the word to describe human family relations, but at least in the sense of a mother being followed by one or some of her offspring. Dolphins and larger whales are examples that readily come to mind.

Dolphins. Picture not from Lembeh

We often encounter animals that seem to be living in families. Examples are of course the anemone fish, where two adult fish live as a dominant couple defends an anemone, and smaller conspecifics also live in the anemone seemingly without doing much (all to similar in behaviour  to my kids!). A number of shrimp also seem to live in families. Tiger shrimp,

Tiger shrimp

bumble bee shrimp

Bumble bee shrimp

emperor shrimp

Emperor shrimp

and sometimes harlequin shrimp can occasionally be seen in groups of two large individuals and one small, leading many observers to draw the conclusion that the small individual is the offspring of the larger ones, and that the larger ones happily tends for their “baby”.

Harlequin shrimp

What is that then with the “seem to be living in families” I include above? Well, the reality of the anemone fish and shrimp family life is that the small individuals are not related to the large ones. For the shrimps, the interaction between small and large individuals have not been studied a lot, while anemone fish relationships have received quite some attention from researchers. Suffice to say in this blog entry that the relationship between large anemone fish and small conspecific inhabitants of an anemone is far from that we would expect from parents and their beloved offspring.

Pink anemone fish

Why am I so sure that these shrimp and anemone fish are not related? Well, the shrimp and the anemone fish all adhere to the standard way that marine fish and crustaceans, and almost everything else marine, use to multiply. Eggs in marine environments generally hatch into larvae that spend some time as plankton. Plankton are animals that are moved around by currents and have little option to decide wherever they are going. Most larvae are plankton for quite some time, which means that currents sweep them far from their mother and father. Whenever the time (weeks to months) as plankton is over and the larvae metamorphose into the adult form, the shrimp and the anemone fish settle.  The likelihood that larvae should happen to reach metamorphosis size at the same time it is located close to its parents is simply extremely small. Thus, the small anemone fish and different shrimp mentioned above that live together with large, adult conspecifics are extraordinarily unlikely to be related to those adult individuals. This means that relatedness, and thus family ties, can not be used to explain why the small individuals live with the larger ones.

False clown anemone fish

I will in my next blog entry shortly discuss the relationship within an anemone fish “colony”. Be prepared for a grizzly world, combining slavery, forced starvation, castration due to stress, a just-to-happy willingness to let conspecifics meet a certain death outside the anemone and cannibalism, all taking place in one and the same anemone. Quite a far way from the cutie, cuddly feeling that Nemo left most of us in!

Dragon Shrimp

The Dragon Shrimp (Miropandalus hardingi) usually lives on whip corals and is quite a rare critter in Lembeh, although at the moment we seem to have a lot (and a lot of everything in general!).  It is not a very exciting animal, so my video is quite short, it did move a little bit so there is some ‘action’ in there.  I shot this selection of clips and images whilst giving Stenly and Johan a dive as part of their photo courses.  Stenly shooting the 7D and Johan with the S95.

Dragon Shrimp

Dragon Shrimp in Lembeh, Indonesia

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster in Lembeh

A Hairy Squat Lobster in a sponge at Nudi Falls, Lembeh Strait.

The Hairy Squat Lobster (Lauriea siagiani) lives in the crevices of the large barrel sponges here in the Lembeh Strait. They typically hide pretty well making it tricky to photograph them, and extremely hard to video them.  I found this guy on a night-dive and he was sat out and moving around, in fact he seemed to enjoy the video lights bringing him plankton.  In these few short clips below you can see the function of the hairs on this critter – they trap stuff for the ‘lobster’ to eat.  You can see him comb through his ‘do and eat up the bits he collects a couple of times.  In my experience of Indonesia over the last 6 years, their diet generally consists of fish poop that ends up settling on the sponges.

Squat lobsters can be found in almost every square meter of the Lembeh Strait, but the Hairy Squat Lobster is the most beautiful and sought-after.

Creature Feature: Solar Powered Nudibranch

Solar Powered Phyllodensium

The Solar-Powered Nudibranch (Phyllodensium longicirrum, Solar-Powered Phyllodensium, Long-Cirri Phyllodensium) is one of the celebrities among the Lembeh Nudibranchs – everybody knows it and everybody likes to see one. The Solar-Powered Nudibranch (SPN) grows to 15 cm in size and is the biggest member of the phyllodensium nudibranchs. As other members of this group, the SPN farms Zoocanthellae algae in its Cerata (tentacles) to create energy through photosynthesis. The flat Cerata have a big surface an therefore lots of space for the algae patches that are separated into individual “solar panels” (that are visible as little brown spots).

The SPN feeds on leather corals of the type Sarcophyton trocheliophorium and stores their toxins to taste bad for potential predators. It usually hangs out around a leather coral until it has consumed it.

Best place to see SPN in Lembeh: Most coral dive sites like for exemple Makawide, Batu Sandar but also Muckdives like Aer Bajo or TK sometimes have SPN.

Photo Tip: Use a wider lens (60mm or wider) as the SPN is relatively big in size. For a big SPN sometimes even Wide Angle can be a good option. The Cerata swing to side to side with the surge … so a good technique is to position yourself in front of the head, prefocus on the rhinophores and wait for a moment when they are both visible.

Creature Feature: Mototi Octopus

Lembeh Strait is the Mekka for rare Critters – but even here, there are some creatures, that are even rarer than other ones. Like the Mototi Octopus (Poison occelate Octopus, Octopus mototi). This rather small Octopus can be easily identified by its two blue Rings (one on each side) that it displays when excited or threatened. The normal colouration is brown/beige and in addition to the spots it can also show a white-yellow/brown stripe pattern. The Mototi Octopus is usually found in Black Sand and preferrs to stay in places where it can hide: Shells, Cans, Bottles, Sponges etc.

The Mototi Octopus is poisonous and can have the size of a Blue Ringed Octopus or also grow to a Body size of 10cm.

Best place to find Mototi Octopus in Lembeh: Muck Dives like TK Bay, Hairbal, Jahir, Pante Parigi and others.

Photo Tips: Best lens to use is a 60 or 100mm Macro Lens (specially if it is a smaller Mototi). Stick with the Octopus for a while and see how it reacts to the Camera. Often it will start to display its blue rings after a while and raise his front tentacles.