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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!

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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NAD Lembeh Trip Report

Vivian at Nad-Lembeh Resort

Vivian and her two Friends George and Carolyn stayed with us in March this year. Now she just put up a trip review on her website. We thought we share this, as she put a lot of effort, pictures and information into this report. Thank you very much Vivian for this nice review 😉

Guest Gallery: Martin Steinmeier

Dragon Shrimp by Martin Steinmeier

With Martin Steinmeier we want to present you another Guest Gallery on our NAD-Lembeh Website. Martin is a UW Photographer from Germany and  last month he came already for his third trip to Lembeh Strait. He loves Macro, shoots a Canon EOS 500D in a Hugyfot Housing (with towel) and took some really nice shots on his recent trip.

Whaleshark found in Lembeh!

NAD Lembeh Guides found Whaleshark

Every day of diving in Lembeh Strait is special – but some days are just more outstanding than others. Today was one of those days. It all started with very heavy tankbanging, when our Dive Guides Stenly (left) and Marnes (right) spotted a Whaleshark in between Aer Bajo 2 and Aer Bajo 3. The Whaleskark came slowly up from the deeper part, passed both of our dive groups, did a turn in the shallows and went slowly back out into the blue (OK … it was more green than blue). It was a very special experience for our guests: they had never seen a whaleshark before (some of them even went already  twice to Maldives specially to see one) and so they were very very happy. But the funniest part was Marnes back on the boat: “First a Mola Mola, now a whaleshark – i start liking these big fish” (it was his first Whaleshark he had seen underwater … but he already saw a Mola Mola in October).

Tiny Baby Octopus

Juvenile octopus

On yesterday’s second morning dive our guide Stenly found (amongst other things) this little baby Octopus for his three Japanese guests. The little fellow had the size of a fingernail or a small coin and was still transparent … you could even see his internal organs working. Its colouration was a little bit like a pygmy squid or a bobtail squid. We think it is a newly hatched Coconut Octopus – this would also explain his preference for little objects and shells … it was grabbing anithing it could find in the sand and tried to hide in it. This picture shows two little shells that i offered him as a little present.

Banggai Cardinalfish

Banggai Cardinalfish, juveniles in mouth

These days our Guide Aso is taking the Krueger familiy from the Netherlands diving. Today they decided, that they would like to see Banggai Cardinalfish. So we went with their boat to Police Pier 2 and planned the dive to have more time in the shallows just under the pearl farm jetty … there is a big Anemone with hundrets of Banggai Cardinalfishes. We spend a good 25 minutes just watching these beautiful fish gathering around their Anemone. There were even several ones with Eggs and also some with hatched babies intheir mouth. The Banggai Cardinalfish incubates the eggs in the mouth for 20 days and then keeps the hatched babies for another 10 days.