When I visited Lembeh in September/October there were flamboyant cuttlefish around in numbers that I have never seen before. On more or less every dive, we saw one or more flamboyants. Blue ring octopus were not as common, but still there was hardly a day when we didn´t see them. This is very much in contrast to the situation now, at least considering adult octopus and cuttlefish. We have seen some, but while still here, they are not nearly close to the densities experienced in September/October. Where did they all go?
Actually, cephalopods, the group that octopus and cuttlefish belong to are quite short-lived. Not only that, they only reproduce once and then die! This pattern of reproduction, where an individual grows for almost all its life, mates and then die, are called semelparity.
Other animals continue living after reproduction and produce other litters some time after. Such a strategy, with multiple reproductive events after the onset of maturity, is called iteroparity.
The answer is that all life histories, that is the allocation of energy over time, consist of trade offs. Food is seldom unlimited, and if it where, time or developmental rate would limit the options available for an animal. The first ting that needs to be realized is that reproduction, having offspring, is expensive. Experiments have time after time verified that reproducing individuals of a lot of different species die earlier than non-reproducing individuals. That is the first trade off, choosing between a long life or offspring. And having no offspring is a fundamental screw up in nature, as your genes get lost for the future, so choosing long life rather than reproduction is not an option for animals looking for success in life.
The second trade off is that costs are related to the effort that is put into reproduction. Everything else equal, the more offspring that is produced, the less survival or future growth rate an individual will experience.
The third important trade off is that an individual need to keep significant amounts of energy reserves in order to survive over long time in the future. Up to around 90% of the energy budget might have to be allocated to future survival if that is the goal. Thus, an individual can produce a vastly higher amount of offspring in one reproductive event if no energy is saved for future survival. Thus, if an individual irrespective of reproduction faces quite high mortality rates, it could obviously be advantageous to “go all in”, reproduce with all the effort you can, and save nothing for a very uncertain future. And that is exactly what cephalopods do, invest all they got in one single “big bang” litter instead of saving themselves for another day.
The cool effect of that here in Lembeh is that there now are quite a number of minute, fully colored flamboyants around. The young flamboyants are really cool, brightly colored and have a lot of attitude.
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
Our many time repeater guests Susan and Tom are having their last dive day today. And Tom did his last night dive yesterday at Nudi Falls. And what he really still wanted to see, was a Starry Night Octopus (Octopus Luteus) … or as Tom said it: “The little red Smurf”. Well anyway: Last night he did get to see one and he really enjoyed his last Night dive. The other highlight for him was, that he found a Hairy Shrimp by himself – something that he always wanted to achieve. Congratulations Tom. You have sharp eyes! We whish Tom and Susan a safe trip back home and hope to see them again next year.
Since we found the first specimen of the green Phycocaris Species 5 months passed already and we are finding them since then constantly. After all we still don’t know if it is a new species or if it is just a variation of Phycocaris simulans (also known as the “Hairy Shrimp”) but we are at least getting better in finding them. We started to spot them on several dive sites already. But the best day was yesterday: I found one in the morning in the northern part of the Lembeh Strait and Aso found one in the afternoon in the middle of the Lembeh Strait. That makes 2 different individuals on a single day (we are assuming, that the shrimp did not make several kilometers during lunchtime). And even though it is so tiny (clearly smaller than a grain of rice) our guest keep loving it. So come to NAD Lembeh and check out the little green Shrimp!
As always Lembeh Strait offers premier Critter Diving. But these days there seem to be a lot of “special” shrimp around. Besides all the different cleaner shrimps, commensal shrimps and other shrimps i see these days a big amount of rare species like Harlequin Shrimps, Tiger Shrimps, Hairy Shrimps, Rock Shrimps, Bumblebee Shrimps, Soft Coral Shrimps, Xenia Coral Shrimps, Sawblade Shrimps, different coloured Skeleton Shrimps, Leander Plumosus and our newly discovered green Phyccocaris species … and probably some others that i forgot. And of course we are also seeing our usual suspects like frogfishes, seahorses, octopus, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, nudibranch, crabs and and and
We found this Phycocaris species for the first time in October and since then already several times at different dive sites here in the Lembeh Strait. This one is now the 5th specimen we found and we have seen them in between 25 and 10 meters depth. It is always associated with the little green ascidians and is most probably a member of the phycocaris family as it has the same features as the Hairy Shrimp. But it has no hair – that’s why we think it could be either a variation or even a completely new species. It definately has the same body shape, behaviour, ray like eyes, hairy legs and size. All specimens we have seen until now are green – even though we have been also searching on different coloured ascidians. No matter what it is: Our guests love them – even though they are really tiny and hard to see without magnifying glasses.
The Hairy Shrimp (phycocaris simulans) is also called Algae Shrimp and one of the freakiest shrimps around here in Lembeh Strait. Basicly it looks like a tiny piece of Algae – a very tiny piece. They grow up to 5 mm in size (often smaller) and sit in between Algae or on rocks and rubble or in between tunicates and ascidians. They can be white, brown, red, yellow or even sometimes greenish and perfect their camouflage with their hairy outgrowth. The tail of the Hairy Shrimp stands high up and gives him a swan-like profile. The Hairy shrimp usually stays in the same area … they can swim, but normally just move their body right an left with the surge. If you have sharp eyes (or a good macro lens) you can often see eggs attached to the belly of the shrimp. Another cool feature of the Hairy Shrimp are the ray-like lines around its eye, that make it look like a sun.
Best place to see Hairy Shrimps in Lembeh Strait: Virtually on all divesites – coral or muck. But you have to look well;)
Photo Tips: Don’t even Try anything less than 1,5:1 – basicly you need a Macrolens (better a 100mm than a 60mm) with a strong diopter or a tele or even both.