When I arrived in Lembeh this time it was just after Christmas. However, I was up for another Christmas treat. Simon here from NAD had ordered a bunch of cool stuff from Nightsea, strobe filters, filters for the lens and a cool pair of yellow spectacles, which waited for me here. I have now tried this system during my stay and will in this blog give a short overview over what I learned from shooting it. But first of all I want to give a brief explanation over what fluorescence is, and why we can find it in nature. BTW, the complete system is available for rent here in NAD if you wish to try it out.
First of all, fluorescence is often confused with bio-luminescence. Bio-luminescence is found in more and more animals, and in a number of mushrooms as well. Well-known examples are those of plankton giving of light when disturbed, deep-water organisms with light organs, mushrooms glowing in the forests, fire flies and for northern areas glowworms. Bio-luminescence is the emitting of light involving a chemical reaction. Very generally, the light emitting substance is a protein called luciferin, which emits light through a chemical reaction catalyzed and oxidized by an enzyme, called luciferase. Thus, a chemical provides the energy fueling bio-luminescence, using oxygen in the process.
Fluorescence, in contrast, is the emission of light where energy from one (or on rare occasions two) photon excites an electron into a higher energy orbital. After a short time, the electron will return to its former level, emitting the excess energy as light of another wavelength. No oxygen will be used in this process, as the light emittance is fuelled by the energy in the photon. Many different subjects in nature fluoresce. Despite that, we can seldom see the fluorescence, as the emitted light level is low, or in wavelengths we cannot detect. One notable exception is the red or orange anemones that we sometimes can se in much deeper water than red and orange colors from sunlight penetrate water. Despite being fairly poorly understood on a biological level, fluorescence is used in many applications, from mineralogy, oil detection, microbiology and forensic work.
So why do things bio-luminesce or fluoresce? Bio-luminescence in marine systems is used for at least three widely different purposes. Most of the deep-sea bio-luminescence seems to be used in order to attract prey. Second, a number of fish living in the zone deep enough for a little light to get through, use bio-luminescence to counter shade the ventral side of them, so shading against the faint surface light can not be used by predators to find prey. Third, and maybe most speculative, it is thought that small crustaceans that bio-luminesce do so to deter small predators. Why would small predators be afraid of light? Well, if a small more or less translucent predator eats a bio-luminescing crustacean, the small predator will light up and attract the next step upwards in the food chain, increasing small predators risk risk of being killed them selves.
What is the point of fluorescence in marine systems? For a number of shallow water cnidarians, mainly the ones using zooxanthellae for their energy input, fluorescence has been suggested to be a way to control excess levels of sun exposure, limiting the damaging effects of uv-light.
Both proteins in the coral itself as well as chlorophyll in the zooxanthellae associated with the coral may fluoresce. The available evidence, however, does not really support this theory.
A number of other animals fluoresce. Some crustaceans, such as the anemone hermit crab fluoresce. Also some bristle-worms, fish and cephalopods fluoresce. There seems to be no reason for these animals to fluoresce, so much fluorescence simply seems to be a side effect of other processes in living creatures. Whatever the cause of fluorescence it really is quite magical to see the different sources of fluorescence light up leaving the rest of the surroundings pitch black when diving. Try it out, it is an experience I am sure you will not forget!
What did I then learn from shooting this system? A to me very surprising fact is that people are not wildly enthusiastic over the results! That might of course be my results that are lacking. Furthermore, the best results, bleak as that may be, are when there are more than one fluorescent color in the picture. Third, and maybe most important is that it is a lot of fun to try it! I look very much forward to try it on coral reef sites such as in the Red sea as well as on land in rain forests. In a month or so I might get back to you with results from that.
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.
Our Guests Markus and Nicole from Germany have been diving with us this January/February for 3 weeks. It was their first trip to Lembeh Strait and they were amazed by the immense biodiversity and all the beautiful and weird critters. Now they put up a slideshow with their photos and videos on vimeo. It has 4 parts – this is the link to the first one. You’ll figure out how to find the other ones. Ah … and please don’t get irritated by the strange music selection.
As always we are working on our cosy garden and we just finished a new nature stone path through the garden with little paths going to each room. We also planted new, lush grass, put decorative white pebble along the building and removed some old flowerbeds to increase the seaview experience. And our plants seem to love it: 4 Orchids of 3 different species are flowering right now in our garden. Plus our Choclate Habanero plants are starting to fruit extensively and we harvested our first 2 pumpkins. So also above water, there is a lot to see these days.
NAD Lembeh Resort and Diving Manager Serge got mentioned in a recent Article by Brooke Morton in Scuba Diving Magazine. In the March/April Issue 2012 there is an article about Octopuses and we are represented in the portion about the mimic octopus. Thank you very much for this article Suba Diving Magazine … and of course we are also “experts” in finding all the other famous critters of Lembeh Strait. Come here and see for yourself!
Today a nice group of divers from Barclays Diveclub left the resort and yesterday they had their last evening. As a special dish they requested “Babi Putar” (a local version of spitroasted pig, which is also known in Bali as Babi Guling). We ordered the whole pig in town and picked it up by speedboat just in time for dinner … of course we also had various other dishes available for everyone that does not eat pork. But the highlight was for sure the Babi Putar … everyone loved the the taste – specially the crispy skin. Babi Putar is available for special dinners at NAD Lembeh Resort, but please remember to prebook with us as we need some days to order the pig.
The housereef at NAD-Lembeh Resort is very popular – specially for a late afternoon dive to jump in quickly after coming back with the PM boat. People usually jump in then around 7 PM to see the courting of the Lembeh Seadragons, the Twin Spot Gobies (before it gets dark) and then some bobtailsquids and other cool critters after sunset. On the way back to the beach the people then pass the seagrass in the shallows – and this is where these pipefishes can be observed. They are a very common type of pipefish here in Lembeh and can be seen virtualy anywhere. But in the evening hours the couples tend to “sleep” together on the seagrass leaves. There is some bent leaves that make very good photosubjects as it is very easy to get the two pipefish at an good angle. And the best thing is: There are so many of these couples, that you can cannot miss them.