This week we had a couple of wonderful dives at TK Bay – with many different critters including Velvet Ghost Pipefish (white), Seahorses, Cockatoo Flounder, Coconut Octopus, Tiger Shrimps and many more. But the highlight was for sure this couple of mating Wonderpuses. We watched them mating for about 10 minutes before they split. Even though i have seen this before, this was the first time carrying a camera. And it was also pretty much the first time that i used the video function of the 7D (in almost 2 years …). So here is some shaky and out of focus footage of this very special moment:
Yesterday we had a terrific second morning dive. After a rather mediocre dive at “Hey Nus” we went to Teluk Kembahu for the second dive. There we found several seahorses, Coconut Octopus, Mimic Octopus, various cool nudibranchs and lots of other cool stuff. But the real highlight of the dive were these two wonderpus mating. Our guide Joni found them and his guests Kristine and Bruce were lucky enough to witness this very special moment. You can clearly see, that the male has a rather orange-brown pattern and the female a rather white-brown pattern. The male is just jumping on the female in this picture – thank you very much to Bruce for this cool shot.
No doubt: Diving in Lembeh is good all year round and there is always a lot to see. But still it is never the same and everytime you come you see some things more frequently and others less frequently. The last days i realized, that there are several members of the Aeolid Nudibranchs (the rather hairy ones like Flabellinas or Phyllodensium) aggregating. I have seen now 4 different species gathering for mating (i suppose) in 2 days of diving.
Specially the Phyllodensium is a very cool group of Nudibranchs as most of them store symbiotic zooxanthella algae in their tentacles to gain energy through photosynthesis. Plus they are very well camouflaged as they often exactely match the corals they live on – so this makes it even more special if you can spot them. There are many different species of this group to see here in Lembeh Strait … besides hundreds of other nudibranchs and thousands of other cool critters.
On yesterdays afternoon dive at “Nudi Falls” i spend the whole dive photographing Gobies – so i had a 100mm lens on the camera. And i really started regretting that, when reaching Safety Stop level at the end of the dive: Just below the boat was this beautiful pair of Nudibranchs mating. They were Hypselodoris iacula (Fishnet Hypselodoris or Magical Hypselodoris). The adults of this species are 5cm big – so two of them are a relatively big size to shoot with a 100m Macro. But as this type of nudibranchs is one of my favourites i still took some (ok … a lot) shots. Like many Nudibranchs their colours really pop under water – even without light or strobe.
In this picture you can see the mating process very well: The sexual Organs (genital papilla) on the upper left side in the picture are connected. Some species of Nudibranchs copulate very quickly some others take a loooong time – specially Dorid Nudibranchs (to which group also these Hypselodoris belong to). After mating the Nudibranchs will stick eggmass ribbons to rocks or algae. let’s hope their eggs will do well – because of course we would all like to see more of this colourful Nudibranch species.
On a dive last week i found this cool Hypselodoris at Hairball 2 – one of the famous Black sand Muck Dives of Lembeh Strait. According to Nudi books it is a “Red-Blotched Hypselodoris”. No matter how it is called – it is a very beautiful Nudibranch and i really kept watching it until my computer started protesting (it was at 33 meters). But what impressed me the most, was the fact that it was sitting there together with a Giant Hypselodoris (hypselodoris apolegma … you can see it in the background of the picture) and there was also some egg mass. Now i am wondering how there can be two different species sitting together with Eggs on the same little piece of sponge. Where they mating? Or was it just coincidence? Just another good dive in Lembeh!
This week when going in for the second dive at Aer Bajo 1, we decended as usual on the buoyline in the shallows. That buoy is ankered by concrete filled oildrums at 6 meters in the sandy bottom. The ropes up to the buoy are always filled with squid eggs – and often when we decend, we see some squids around. But on that dive it was rather special – when decending, there were around 15 big squids dancing and mating around the ropes. The group hovered around the buoyline while always one or two of them went in on the rope to place eggs. After the group decended to the dive site (to see Mimic, Frogfishes, Seahorses and more) i stayed around for a while and watched this beautiful ballet, that the squid were performing. As i slowly went closer i realized at one moment, that i am completely surrounded by squid … i could have basicly touched them. Unlucky, that i had a long Macrolens on – would have been the perfect wideangle shot. But to back up the story here is one blurry shot taken from distance 😉
Last week we found a small male black hairy Frogfish … and when coming back again this week, he already found a new “Hairy Girlfriend”. On this fantastic dive, we not only saw these two lovers, but also two more Hairy Frogfish on the same site. Let’s hope they make lot’s of small Hairy Frogfish Babies 😉