After leaving Lembeh in October I honestly thought that it would be about a year until I could visit again. I had quite a number of trips elsewhere planned and also a lot of stuff to do on my day job. After spending the rest of the fall with doing paperwork, and an extremely early winter onset at my home in Sweden, combined with a record amount of snow, it became clear that I had to get some diving in before planned. So here I am back in Lembeh again, more than happy to be blogging about the stuff we see and take pictures of during the next couple of weeks. I know I am most likely preaching to the choir here, but it was pretty obvious already yesterday five minutes after my arrival that 28 degrees Celcius and sun so strong that you actually would benefit from sunglasses beats the climate around the polar circle by just an incredible amount on the life quality scale.
What are the differences then from October? Well, some are resort based. Simon and his staff have fixed a really nice bar on the second floor with a great view over the strait. The boats were already fixed in October, but now there are new, quick and very well planned boats here. The guides are the same, which I am very happy with. The former chairs, which probably were made of concrete, iron scraps and lead, have been replaced (some would say that that is a bad thing, breaking a long tradition, but then again other people seem to want to be able to actually move their chairs). Compared to my last visit, being the low season now, there are very few people here. Having visited Lembeh during more or less during all seasons, I really wonder why there is a low season, as the diving has been very good whenever I have ben here.
The diving is not the same though, different animals seem to be common at different times. And that takes us to the differences under water. Most of the seasonal differences here seem more to be a question of differences in densities of animals rather than differences in what species can be found here. The flamboyant cuttlefish, which were common to the point of being not very interesting in October, have left their marks with eggs in most of the empty coconuts on the sands.
Flamboyants are still around, but not as many as then, which makes sense, as flamboyant and their relatives die soon after mating. The same goes for blue rings that are tending their eggs now, but are not seen in the same more or less ridiculous densities as in October. I would be surprised if there are as many frogfish around as on my last visit. But, that said, I am pretty sure that something else will be much more common now. Apparently there are quite a number of Harlequin shrimp here now, and they are always fun to watch.
After some days of diving here, I will get back to you with what else is common now. Wire coral shrimps were very common today at least, as you can see from today`s shots!
These two Shrimpgobies are very similar, and if you aren’t paying much attention you will dismiss them as being the same.
These are two of my favourite critters, and i consider them a connoisseur’s choice when people make their wishlist for Lembeh. They are very hard to shoot until you hit Zen mode and all the wildlife starts ignoring you, add to that once you scare them you have to wait 5 minutes minimum for them to come out of their hole again – it can eat up your divetime quite quickly.
The big give away between the two is the dorsal fin, and you will also notice that thier behaviour is a little different – the Yellownose has a cool way of displaying to show it’s territory.
I did one dive on New Years Day, and I found this little guy:
This shrimp was first found by one of my guides in 2011, and amazingly enough it has evaded me until yesterday. Every-time I have dropped in on a site where they had a confirmed sighting, it has moved. Or one time the guides found it when I was on a dive, I had a deco stop and it was too deep :(.
As far as I am aware, this has completed everything i could see here in Lembeh, now I just need to see them all again and get better photos!
A special thanks to our dive-team, I can say without doubt that they are the best in the area. As a team they all help each other and they all have different strengths which complement each other.
Anyway, here is the video, hopefully see you sometime in 2013:
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.
The Dragon Shrimp (Miropandalus hardingi) usually lives on whip corals and is quite a rare critter in Lembeh, although at the moment we seem to have a lot (and a lot of everything in general!). It is not a very exciting animal, so my video is quite short, it did move a little bit so there is some ‘action’ in there. I shot this selection of clips and images whilst giving Stenly and Johan a dive as part of their photo courses. Stenly shooting the 7D and Johan with the S95.
The other day at TK I found (well of course i didn’t, the guides did!) a pair of Commensal Shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) sitting on the back of a Glossodoris nudibranch.
I also managed to get a few video clips of them feeding as well, these are some of my favourite shrimp, just behind the coleman shrimp… which i’ll go looking for in a few days:
On my day job part of my time is used to teach ecology for undergraduates in biology. Maybe not such a surprise, many of the best examples of interactions between species that I use in my teaching come from marine ecosystems. This is especially true when dealing with symbiosis theory.
Symbiosis means “together living”, and describes animals or plants living together with a tight relationship with each other. It is reserved for animals or plants of different species, but the exact definition is under some discussion. I will use it in its general sense, including obligate (the different species need each other) and facultative (at least one species affects the other species, but the interaction is not essential for either). Used in this sense, symbiosis includes commensalism, mutualism and parasitism. Today´s entry will be on the least exciting of the three, commensalistic interactions.
Commensalism describes the relationship between two organisms where one organism benefits without affecting the other. Many such examples are found in marine environments. One likely example is the small porcelain crabs residing on soft corals. The porcelain crabs get a perch to sit on and protection among the arms of the soft coral, while the soft coral is unaffected.
Another example would be the gobies that live on many other animals in the sea, often changing colour to closely resembling their host. It is likely that the host in most circumstances are rather unaffected by the gobies seeking shelter.
The gobies and the porcelain crabs exemplify commensalistic interactions where one species lives on the other species, which is a true symbiosis. They are probably also more or less obligate, as predators quickly would kill both gobies and porcelain crabs without the shelter of the hosts . Commensalism doesn´t have to include symbiosis. This was clear when we were in a slight current on Hairball, watching a box crab rip a smaller crab to pieces. Box crabs are messy feeders, so a lot of the bits and pieces of the crab were swept down current out of reach of the box crab. However, it was not just lost, as a couple of big flounders quickly placed themselves behind the crab and ate the morsels coming with the current, benefitting the flounders without harming the box crab.
Finally, one part of the pair can already be dead when the commensalistic interaction takes place. Hermit crabs, having to find shelter for their soft anterior parts, need empty shells in order to hide the unprotected part of their body. Different snails provide these shell after the snails are dead, which means that the hermit crabs are benefitted by the presence of snails, while snails are unaffected by hermit crabs.