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Soft Coral Munchers

Kabira PhyllodensiumAs Phyllodensium Nudibranchs are uncommon, bizarre and attractive at the same time, they always make a good Blog post. Specially when they are found in numbers. Having blogged some weeks ago already about the Solar powered Nudibranch, it’s today the turn of the Kabira Phyllodensium (Phyllodensium kabiranum). As they are very well camouflaged when feeding on Soft Corals, they are very hard to spot – but once you found them, they make a very attractive subject. Specially, when they are isolated from the soft coral, like this one in the picture. At the moment we are finding 5 of them at Nudi Retreat – but we are also seeing them at some other Dive Sites here in Lembeh Strait.

The blue highlights in its brown tentacles make it already very attractive – but when you pass the right moment of the surge moving all it’s cerata to one side, you can see its beautiful orange base. Keep looking within Heteroxenia and Xenia corals and you might find one.

Still competing

All contestants of the UW Photo Shoot Out at NAD Lembeh

We are now more than half way through the Underwater.kr Shoot Out and the contestants will have their last day of diving tomorrow, before they have to submit their shots for judging. All cameras are still dry and all equipment is fully functional – thank you again to our sponsors from Nauticam for their on-site support.

Besides the four contest dives a day we also had a bit of evening programm including a Lembeh photo slideshow by Serge, a Video Showcase by EunJae and Simon will do a little lecture this evening. Other than that, all contestants are busy selecting and editing their photos. We are looking forward to the results!

Underwater.kr Shoot-Out started

The competition started

Since today the Underwater.kr Lembeh Shoot-Out started. Nad-Lembeh is hosting this international Underwater Photo Competition, where Photographers from Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Indonesia and Europe compete in different categories such as “Interchangeable Lens Cameras”, “Compact Cameras”, “Portfolio”, “Super-Macro” and “Unrestricted”.

To give a good example for the whole underwater photography scene, there will also so be a Special Prize for good diving behaviour – awarded to the diver with the most respect to the marine life and the best diving/buoyancy skills. It seems to be working: The judges saw very good behaviour on the first day of the competition. Also good … No flooded housings so far. The only thing that actually went wrong today: Simon had to do his first dive as a judge without fins, which had been left in the resort 😉

A big thanks goes to all the sponsors, that donated the huge prize fund and special thanks also to the sponsors that are here on site: Nauticam, Eneloop Malaysia and Cam Square.

New/Old Guest Blogger for December

So here it is: My second Introduction Post on the NAD Lembeh Blog.

My Name is Serge and after having written the updates here for one year as the Dive Manager i am now back for a 1 month visit and will use my time to keep you updated on what’s going on at NAD Lembeh – on land and of course underwater!

First of all i want to say something about the resort itself: It is amzing how many improvements Simon, Zee and the team have made! New entrances to the Beachfront Rooms, a entirely new Restaurant with a second floor Bar/Lounge area, a new kitchen, improved compressor facilities with a Nitrox membrane (my favourite!) and new boats and engines. I can’t imagine how they did all this in only 6 months, but they did it 😉

And second: I am also suprised by the good diving. There are many Frogfish around, good Blue Ring Octopus action (with sightings basicly every day), some fantastic Nudibranches, crazy Shrimps and tons of other cool critters. I had my third dive day today and i already can’t remember what i have already seen. And with the fantastic team of Dive Guides (Paulus, Joni, Stenly, Johan, Indra, Abner, Marnez and Steven) i am sure i will have a great time.
Goby-Crab

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!

Some photos from the last week

I started the week diving a lot, but with routine engine servicing (7 engines over 2 days), new restaurant furniture (pics to follow soon) and removing a flower bed and preparing for the final phase of the roof renovation (above the wet camera room) – I am heading into the weekend feeling I haven’t dived enough, even though i have dived more times this week than i did between September 2011 and September 2012!

The diving highlight for me was finding a strange shrimp all by myself and experimenting with lighting on a few critters.  The big downer was missing some cool  sightings such as the 3 bluerings on this afternoons dive.

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Cymothoa exigua, Bent’s favourite Critter

So, after the English Football team got there ass (arse) whooped by Sweden last night I thought to myself ‘what would Bent do?’ The answer was not hard to find, as our favourite Swede/Dane hybrid loves parasites and all things small and disgusting.
I headed out on a dive with Stenly, Joni, Johan, Indra, Abner and importantly Rockles came along as part of his training to join the dive team.  Obviously Parasites on fish aren’t hard to find in Lembeh but the boys enjoy any excuse to go out taking pictures themselves, and Rockles and Johan seem to be having some kind of bro-mance. It’s very sweet.

Anyway, here are the pictures I got of the meanest parasite of them all… Cymothoa exigua – The tongue eater!