Ich war mir sicher, dass ich tauchen lieben würde, denn nur im Wasser könnte ich das Gefühl des Fliegens aus meinen Träumen erleben (Wie ich zum tauchen kam). Davon war ich überzeugt und so ist es gekommen. Seitdem ist es nur noch besser geworden.
Die Sucht des Tauchens
Schwerelosigkeit und Freiheit, die Natur und Artenvielfalt, aber vor allem das ganz neue Körpergefühl, diese Mischung von Atmung und Bewegung, Anspannung und Entspannung, schlugen mich sofort in ihren Bann. Kurz nachdem ich tauchen auf den Philippinen gelernt hatte (Endlich richtig abtauchen), schrieb ich nach Hause:
„Macht einfach süchtig! Es ist wie Unterwasseryoga. Du kontrollierst die Höhe über deinen Atem und du bewegst dich möglichst langsam und energiesparend. Atmest ruhig und langsam. Unglaublich. Und dabei eröffnet sich dir noch eine wunderschöne, faszinierende, vibrierende Welt voller zauberhafter Wesen und abgedrehter Formen.”
Als ich das erste Mal mit Yoeri tauchen ging, konnte ich es nicht fassen. Er schien sich nicht zu bewegen, kam dennoch mühelos voran, konnte einfach so in der Strömung hängen und in jede beliebige Richtung navigieren. Ich war hin und weg. Wie machte er das alles? Ein Fisch unter Fischen. Das wollte ich auch! Die Anziehung durch meinen eigenen Meeresgott verschmolz mit der Liebe fürs Tauchens und entfachte eine tiefe Leidenschaft und Hingabe, um ganz und gar nicht pathetisch zu klingen.
Zu Beginn genoss ich einen Aspekt des Tauchen besonders, die Phase des „freien Falls”. Rund um Alona Beach gab viele Tauchplätze mit steil abfallenden Riffwänden. An der Riffkante angekommen, ließ ich alle Luft aus der Tarierweste, um anschließend ganz lange auszuatmen, so dass ich schneller und schneller sank. Ich streckte die Arme und Beine aus wie ein Seestern. So in etwa stellte ich mir Fallschirm springen vor und genoss das Gefühl in vollen Zügen.
Wenn nötig, atmete ich einmal kurz und schnell ein und anschließend sofort wieder lange und vollständig aus, um die Geschwindigkeit meines „Falls” nicht frühzeitig abzubremsen. Erst kurz vor dem Grund oder der geplanten Tiefe änderte ich meinen Rhythmus, atmete lange und tief ein, füllte meine Lunge komplett mit Luft.
Luft ist leichter als Wasser und je mehr davon in den Lungen oder der Tarierweste steckt, umso mehr schwereres Wasser verdrängt der eigene Körper. Um neutral austariert zu sein, also weder zu sinken (negative Tarierung) oder zu steigen (positive Tarierung), muss ein Taucher genauso so viel Wasser verdrängen, wie seinem eigenen Gewicht entspricht – inklusive der Ausrüstung versteht sich. Da sich dieses Verhältnis durch zunehmenden Druck und Dichte in der Tiefe verändert, musste ich dort zusätzlich eine paar Luftstöße in die Tarierweste blasen.
Doch es sind nicht nur das Gefühl des Tauchens selbst und das spielerische Element, die mich verzaubert haben, sondern auch die Unterwasserwelt, die gleichzeitig begeistert und entspannt. Nirgendwo sonst bin ich bisher so vielen verschiedenen Tieren nahe gekommen. Manche Arten werden fälschlicherweise für Pflanzen gehalten, darunter Korallen, aber auch Schwämme, Seescheiden oder Federsterne in der Galerie eine kleine Auswahl von Art by nature).
Zu Beginn kam ich aus dem Staunen gar nicht heraus und noch immer gibt es Neues zu entdecken (Schätze in Schlamm und Müll). Das schwierigste war das Gesehene, die ganze neue Wunderwelt, in Worte zu fassen, weil es so unglaublich viel war, so viele neue, bizarre und bunte Wesen auf mich einstürzten, und ich zu Beginn gar nicht genau wusste, um was es sich dabei eigentlich handelt. Das macht es nicht nur schwierig, die Begegnung zu beschreiben, sondern erschwert auch, sich überhaupt an alles zu erinnern.
Nach drei Tauchgängen am Tag war ich auf Wolke Sieben, hatte aber Mühe zu sagen, was auf welchem Tauchgang passiert war und mir Details und Arten ins Gedächtnis zu rufen. Da ich nicht einfach nur blind konsumieren, sondern die neue Welt um mich herum wirklich verstehen wollte, fing ich an, meine Nase in alle Bestimmungsbücher zu stecken, Yoeri über seine Unterwasservideos auszufragen und idealerweise direkt nach dem Tauchgang, die herausragenden Funde, ob alte Bekannte oder neu kennengelernte Arten, in mein Logbuch zu schreiben.
Sobald man weiß, was man sieht, kann sich die Wahrnehmung vertiefen. Es geht nicht mehr allein darum, eine Art (wieder) zu erkennen, sondern zu beobachten, was dieses Unterwasserlebewesen macht, wie es mit anderen in Beziehung tritt, wo es zu finden ist, von was es sich ernährt, wie es auf uns reagiert und vieles mehr. Gerade für Unterwasserfotografen oder -videografen ist das Wissen Gold wert, denn dann kann ich nicht nur an den richtigen Stellen nach dem Objekt meiner Begierde suchen, sondern auch noch abschätzen, was vielleicht als nächstes geschieht und wie ich mich dafür am besten positioniere (vom Fotografieren erzähle ich ein andermal).
Wir schützen nur das, was wir lieben, sagte einst Jacques Cousteau. Um es zu lieben, müssen wir es erst einmal kennen und am besten noch verstehen. Noch immer werden viele neue Arten entdeckt, was nicht heißt, dass sie noch niemand gesehen hat. Sie wurden nur noch nicht wissenschaftlich beschrieben und klassifiziert (Let’s talk scientific!). Über die Beziehungen der Arten untereinander und ihre jeweiligen Rollen in der Unterwasserwelt ist noch weniger bekannt als über die einzelnen Arten selbst. Viele Schätze schlummern unter der Wasseroberfläche.
Stück für Stück erschließe ich mir die Unterwasserwelten, die wir besuchen und teile das, was ich kennenlerne gerne mit anderen, ob in Briefings, Postings oder mit den Fotos hier auf der Website (Underwater Photography). Ständig Neues lernen, nicht nur über die verschiedenen Arten und das Zusammenspiel im Ökosystem, sondern auch über mich selbst, das Meer und das Tauchen an sich, erfüllt mich und verhindert, dass in dieser Liebesbeziehung Langeweile aufkommen kann. Andere Menschen haben andere Vorlieben beim Tauchen.
Gemeinschaft und Gefühl
Trotzdem: Tauchen verbindet. Zum einen teilt man schöne Momente, schafft gemeinsame Erfahrungen. Zum anderen tauscht man sich aus, lernt mit und von einander, im besten Fall und den Rest blende ich jetzt einfach mit meiner rosaroten Brille aus. In jedem Fall hat Tauchen mein Leben bereichert. Ich habe verschiedene Länder bereist, kleine Ausschnitte des lokalen Lebens kennengelernt, Menschen aus aller Welt mit den verschiedensten Hintergründen getroffen. Menschen, mit denen ich ohne das Tauchen niemals ins Gespräch gekommen wäre. Wenn sich die Unterhaltung nicht fruchtbar entwickelt, kann ich immer wieder aufs Tauchen ausweichen.
Es ist schön, ganz neue Plätze kennenzulernen, doch an vielen Orten kann ich immer wieder tauchen, sie mit jedem Tauchgang detaillierter kennenlernen, Bewohner und Verhaltensmuster beobachten, sehen, wie sich der Platz im Tages- und Jahresverlauf und mit den Wasserbedingungen verändert. Jeder Tauchgang ist anders und bietet Neues. Meistens kommt es einfach auf die Einstellung an, sich auf die Situation einlassen können, nichts erzwingen wollen, von sich selbst oder dem Meer.
Wirklich spannend, wird es dort, wo sich umgekehrt Meeresbewohner an bestimmte Taucher erinnern. Auf Statia gab es einen Trompetenfisch, den Yoeri zu sich rufen konnte. Sobald er seinen Arm ausgestreckt hat, legte sich dieser eine Fisch darauf – nur bei ihm, jedes Mal wieder. Mantas reagieren nicht nur unterschiedlich auf verschiedene Menschen, sondern haben ihre eigene Launen. An manchen Tagen kommen sie ganz nah heran, streicheln einem mit ihren Flügeln über den Kopf oder schauen über die Schulter, wenn man es wagt, etwas anderes als die majestätischen Tänzer selbst zu filmen, und an anderen Tagen lassen sie niemanden auch nur in ihre Nähe.
Mit offenen Augen durch die Unterwasserwelt zu gleiten, dabei neue Dinge entdecken oder alte Bekannte begrüßen, setzt in uns Glückshormone frei. Wir lassen unsere Probleme und Zweifel an der Wasseroberfläche zurück, tauchen ab, um Ruhe und Schwerelosigkeit zu genießen, um zu suchen und zu finden. Die Zeit scheint anders zu vergehen: Viel zu schnell und dann doch gedehnt, so als würde all das Erleben nicht in den kleinen Zeitraum hineinpassen und unsere Wahrnehmung ihn dehnen, um Platz zu schaffen für alle die Begegnungen und Gefühle eines einzigen Tauchgangs.
Manche Tauchgänge bleiben besser im Gedächtnis als andere. Doch warum ich tauchen am meisten liebe, lässt sich am besten mit dem Begriff aktive Meditation beschreiben. Ich kann mich vollkommen selbst verlieren und neu entdecken, meine Nichtigkeit und wahre Größe erkennen. Körper und Geist verschmelzen, ich gehe im Moment auf und stehe im Einklang mit der Natur, lasse mich fallen, um über mich hinauszuwachsen.
Die Clips der Reihe „Take a Minute” liefern die visuelle Untermalung für meine Worte und dazu noch mehr Wissen.
Take a Minute XXX : CephalopodsMy apologies for the long wait, to see another one of our "Take a Minute" videos, but it seems when technical difficulties meet political issues, electronic repairs can take an awfully long time. On top of that, the ongoing Corona business didn't help speed things up either. But.... we're back!
And just in time. Today is the birthday of the girl I hope to spend the rest of my life with. Whose love makes me want to be the best version of myself. Nicki, I love you to the moon and back! And what better way to say this, than with a Minute of cephalopods. Represented in this video by the dwarf cuttlefish, or Sepia bandensis. Love, this one is for you!
Cephalopods are molluscs with their arms attached to their head. The word is based on old Greek (kephalópodes; "head-feet"). Octopus, cuttlefish and squid are in a class of their own in multiple ways. Classified as cephalopods they lack a backbone in their soft bodies but show remarkable intelligence for invertebrates. These savvy softies arouse a great deal of interest in divers and science alike. Probably the most fascinating aspect of cephalopods is their ability to change colour as well as the texture of their skin in a blink of an eye. This way they can blend in with their surroundings perfectly or show bright warning or hypnotizing patterns at will.
Just below the surface of their skin sit thousands and thousands of chromatophores (colour-changing cells). Each chromatophore contains a sack of a particular pigment (black, brown, orange, red or yellow). By stretching the sack, the colour appears brighter. A complex system of nerves and muscles controls this magical transformation including the texture of the skin from smooth via small bumps to high spikes. Additionally, some cephalopods have iridophores, plates reflecting greens, blues, silvers and golds, while leucophores mirror the colour of the surroundings to perfect their camouflage.
They use their skill to hide from predators as well as to sneak up on their prey. But colour patterns are also a way to communicate to another or others in the form of flashing bright warning colouration, like the poisonous and venomous Flamboyant cuttlefish. As a last resort, they can release a cloud of ink and disappear through any hole their bony beak fits through. That’s the only hard part of the body of these curious creatures.
Cephalopods have the largest brain-to-body mass ratio as well as the most complex nervous system among all invertebrates. Basically, science is still struggling to understand and test certain aspects of the intelligence of cephalopods. Maybe soon there are new ways to measure and validate other forms of their intelligence too.
Almost all cephalopods are active hunters, pushing them to develop certain strategies and behaviour to find and catch their prey. Some crabs, the base of the most octopus food source, have powerful pincers to defend themselves and a long pursuit costs energy. Hence, octopuses are looking at how to use the work of others to their advantage, such as stealing bait from lobster traps or climb on board fishing boats to feast on the dead or dying crabs in containers.
As described above, cephalopods can use skin colouration and texture to communicate. Posture and locomotion add to their display. We were lucky enough to observe flamboyant cuttlefish flashing colours in courtship in Komodo ourselves. Eventually, the bigger female stopped and raised her arms to allow the small male to deliver its sperm. They went on for various rounds. Especially, squid use colour and (flashing) patterns to communicate, not only in courtship. Caribbean reef squid can send different colour patterns to squids on either side of their bodies at the same time. Humboldt squid use communication even in cooperative hunting techniques.
Octopuses can be trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. In laboratories, they benefit from an enriched environment, using bottles or toys to play with. Furthermore, they have repeatedly shown the ability to use tools. As seen by many divers, they collect, carry and use coconut husks and shells for protecting their soft bodies from predators.
The ocean is full of wondrous life forms, that makes us re-think everything we thought we knew about this planet and our place in it!
#dwarfcuttlefish #Sepiabandensis #lembeh #underwater #relax #arms #TakeaMinute #diving #cuttlefish #octopus #Indonesia #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXIX: NudibranchsIn this minute of visual meditation, we would like to focus on nudibranchs in general instead of going into the specifics of the two species filmed in the waters of Bali (Indonesia). Divers lovingly call them nudis, short for nudibranchs, which makes them even cuter and brings out their true nature: beautiful, colourful, and exotic on the one hand, mysterious, bizarre and toxic on the other.
Different families of nudibranchs (further split into genus and species) form the order nudibranchia within the large taxonomic class Gastropoda, commonly known as snails and slugs. While all nudibranchs are sea slugs, not all sea slugs are nudibranchs. The name nudibranch originates from the Latin „nudus“, meaning „naked“, and the Ancient Greek βράγχια (bránkhia) for „gills“, referring to the gill-like appendages which protrude from the backs of many nudibranchs.
Although they possess eyes, their eyesight is thought to be limited to picking up light and dark shapes only. They view the world through chemical receptors in the shape of tentacles on their heads. These tentacles are called rhinophores and they allow nudibranchs to smell food, find potential mates, predators and provides them with some sort of situational awareness.
Nudibranchs can thrive nearly everywhere, from shallow, temperate, and tropic reefs to Antarctica and even hydrothermal vents. At present, there are well over 3,000 species of nudibranchs known to science, but new species are still found. Discoveries of large numbers of bioactive compounds suggest that sea slugs are an excellent biomedicine source which has fueled the research into this order within the animal kingdom.
However strange it may seem, these colourful families of sea slugs are carnivores, whose prey consists of sponges, coral, anemones, hydroids, barnacles, fish eggs, sea slugs, and other nudibranchs. To eat their food, most nudibranchs possess a radula, which is a toothed structure that they use to “chew” their food up. Some species suck out their prey after predigesting their tissue with selected enzymes, rather like a spider. Nudibranchs are very picky about what they eat, individual species or families of nudibranchs may eat only one kind of prey. Nudibranchs get their vivid colours from the food they eat, which in turn advertises to would-be predators, that they are poisonous, or at the very least foul-tasting. In any case, enough to be left alone by most.
The characteristic of aeolid nudibranchs, like the ones in this clip, are long, narrow bodies with numerous horn-like extension which are called cerata and serve as gills. The form of the cerata extends the surface for respiration significantly and is also used for defence. Various species feed on hydroids and their stinging cells (nematocysts) pass through the digestive system of some aeolids and are build into the tips of their cerata (watch “Take a Minute II” for more details).
Nudibranchs have a shell in their larval stage, but it disappears in the process of becoming an adult. They come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention wild colour pattern variations, which makes them so popular with divers and snorkellers. Some are very hard to tell apart, others strikingly different from anything you have ever seen before. Some stand out, others are highly camouflaged.
They also vary in sizes from massive beasts such as the“Moon-headed sidegill slug” (Euselenops luniceps) presented in „Take a Minute XIX“ to tiny speaks of some millimetres, like Costasiella kuroshimae a.k.a. “Shaun the Sheep” (shown in „Take a Minute VI“). This tiny creature has the ability to extract the chloroplasts from the food it eats and stores them in its cerata. This process is called kleptoplasty, and it enables “Shaun” to harvest/feed the energy that is released by the photosynthesis of these accumulated chloroplasts.
This is also the second feeding strategy of Melibe engeli („Take a Minute XXVI“). Through photosynthesis, the algae farms in its tissues produce nutrients for the Melibe in situations when food is scarce. The mutualistic symbiosis between different species of nudibranchs and unicellular photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium (often known as ‘zooxanthellae’) has been known to science for quite some time. Most “solar-powered” nudibranch species take up Symbiodinium from their prey of soft or hard corals and cultivate them inside the cells of their digestive glands. But since Melibe engeli feeds exclusively on small crustaceans, science is still baffled as to how this nudibranch picks up the symbiont zooxanthellae for its emergency solar farms.
The search is on - not only for divers and snorkelers.
#nudibranch #Indonesia #underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #snorkel #nudis #bali #slug #snail #macro #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXVIII : Golden Sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti)In this minute of relaxation, we would like to mesmerize you with the incredible performance of these small, but interesting reef fish. At first glance, Parapriacanthus ransonneti is just an unremarkable small fish that goes by many different names, depending on the region one encounters them. Yellow/Golden Sweeper, Pygmy sweeper, Golden/Yellow Bullseye, and Golden Glassfish, just to name a few. Several species of Parapriacanthus are often huddled together under the same banner of “Glassfish”, as they're partially transparent. However, since Parapriacanthus ransonneti rolls so nicely of the tongue, and in order to prevent any unnecessary confusion, we'll stick to this creature’s scientific name.
Parapriacanthus ransonneti are reef fish that inhabit coastal and offshore reefs between 3-30m of depth, throughout the West Indo-Pacific region. Although they can reach a maximum size of 10cm, most of the specimens encountered are smaller than that. They have a rather compressed, silvery pink translucent body with a greenish golden head and large eyes, showing a faint dark horizontal streak starting from the upper part of their gill cover to below the rear end of their dorsal fin. During the day they can form large aggregations in reef cracks, caves and overhangs, often sharing their day retreats with nocturnal hunters, like moray eels. As darkness sets in, they disperse and individually feed in the vicinity of the “home” reef.
Whilst hunting, they float high above the seafloor looking for larger zooplankton, like copepods and ostracods. Feeding at night comes with its own set of challenges, which besides certain obvious evolutionary adaptations, requires an intimate knowledge and understanding of the prey that one’s after as well as the predators one tries to avoid. As a reward for its efforts, P. ransonneti can wine & dine in relative safety. For the night has fewer predators for P. ransonneti than during the day. And with its midwater feeding behaviour, this clever little fish has managed to steer clear of most of the nocturnal predators that roam the reef. When daylight approaches, they converge again to a sheltered place on the reef, where the many combined eyes offer not only safety in numbers, but moreover provides the ability and opportunity to confuse any would-be assailants with their wild flashmob choreography.
Unfortunately, feeding in midwater at night is not without peril. Those that do, risk being spotted by a nocturnal hunter looking up from the reef in the hope of spotting the silhouettes of prey against the dim-lit surface. This is likely why Parapriacanthus ransonneti have evolved their bioluminescent qualities, which gives them the ability to produce their own light. They possess 2 types of ventral light organs. Firstly a Y-shaped thoracic light organ that emits a V-shape pattern from its throat, all the way to the base of its anal fins. Secondly, a linear anal light organ. Which, as one might already have suspected, emerges from the rectum of this fish.
These organs allow P. ransonneti to camouflage themselves against the light above, through a phenomenon called “counter-illumination”. In this process, the bioluminescent creature emits light from the underside of its body in order to break/smudge its silhouette and become less visible for any predator lurking below. Bioluminescence occurs when a protein named luciferin interacts with the enzyme luciferase, inside a particular light-emitting creature. Luciferin is usually obtained through the organisms these bioluminescent creatures consume. In contrast, the enzyme luciferase was thought to be exclusively made by the bioluminescent organism itself (endogenous) and is produced by transcription of DNA.
Even though the ability to shine a light from one's arse in order to blend in, might seem somewhat extreme to non-glowing creatures like ourselves, in the aquatic realm, however, bioluminescence is nothing new. What sets Parapriacanthus ransonneti apart from the rest of these enlightened creatures, is that it’s able to acquire both the luciferin and the luciferase from the copepods and ostracods in their diet. Somehow P. ransonneti manages to extract the luciferase enzymes from their prey, without damaging and/or changing the enzyme’s DNA in any way. And then puts them to work in their own bodies!
The discovery of this extraordinary achievement was/is very interesting for a number of reasons, but mainly because it suggests that the acquisition of certain physical traits across species are not always the result of their genetic makeup. Parapriacanthus ransonneti has made us re-evaluate much of what we thought to know about the evolutionary process of creating specific abilities, and how the environment in which a creature lives, is affecting said process.
#underwater #relax #meditation #coralreef #TakeaMinute #diving #travel #Komodo #Parapriacanthus #Indonesia #bioluminescence #GoldenSweeper #wideangle #reef #Amphibico
Take a Minute XXVII : Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)Take a Minute XXVII: Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)
In this episode of underwater relaxation, we would like to become a part of this immense living silver cloud, and simply go with the flow… A school of fish this size can literally block out the sun. These Bigeye trevallies (Caranx sexfasciatus) have come together in impressive numbers, to cruise over this beautiful sunlit reef. Bigeye trevallies are currently classified within the genus Caranx, one of the groups known as Jacks or Trevallies. This genus itself is part of the larger mackerel family Carangidae. It’s specific epithet (the second part of the scientific name), roughly translates to “six banded”, and refers to the creature’s juvenile colouration.
This species of trevally is rather easily identified due to its big eyes, and are one of the most widespread species of them all. They can be found in massive schools in the tropical waters from the western shores of Central America, all the way to the east of Africa. Actually, the only place they can’t be found is in the Atlantic Ocean. Bigeye trevallies normally live close to shore, down to a depth of around 150 meters. However, they do venture out to make offshore seamounts their home as well. They can even make their way upriver into freshwater. As they reach their adult size of about 80 cm, they can easily weigh 10kg.
Caranx sexfasciatus is a voracious predator that relies predominantly on its speed to overpower and surprise its prey. Their diet consists of other fish and crustaceans, which are mainly caught at night. During the day they like to come together to relax. After all, many big eyes see more than one, and in the ocean one always needs to keep an eye out for a bigger fish. This gives them the chance to visit cleaning stations and enjoy their Spa treatment to the fullest extend. An interesting side note about this creature is that although they usually appear silvery and shiny, like many other fish they are capable of changing their colour, all the way to a dark black. It is thought that this capability to change colour is helping them to communicate more efficiently amongst themselves, as well as with other species. Although Caranx sexfasciatus is quite a common sight around the tropical waters of this planet, it is clearly not a boring creature. And when they come together in large numbers, they’re a sight to behold. Not only taking the light but also one's breath away.
#diving #Balicasag #trevally#schooling#underwater#meditation #TakeaMinute #Bigeyes #travel #Philippines#savetheocean #reefprotection #wideangle #SonyV1p #Amphibico
Take a Minute XXVI : Solar-powered Melibe (Melibe engeli)In this Minute of Relaxation, we would like to introduce you to one of the most interesting species of Nudibranch, named Melibe engeli. Nudibranchs are molluscs in the class Gastropoda, which includes snails, slugs, and sea hares. Many gastropods have a shell. Nudibranchs have a shell in their larval stage, but it disappears in the process of becoming an adult. They come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention wild colour pattern variations, which makes them so popular with divers and snorkellers. The word nudibranch comes from the Latin word nudus (naked) and Greek branchiae (gills), which refers to the gill-like appendages which protrude from the backs of many nudibranchs. Although they possess eyes, their eyesight is thought to be limited to picking up only light and dark shapes. They view the world through chemical receptors in the shape of tentacles on their heads. These tentacles are called rhinophores and they allow nudibranchs to smell food, find potential mates, predators and provides them with some sort of situational awareness.
Nudibranchs can thrive nearly everywhere, from shallow, temperate, and tropic reefs to Antarctica and even hydrothermal vents. At present, there are well over 3000 species of nudibranchs known to science, but new species are still being discovered. However strange it may seem, this colourful family of sea slugs are carnivores, whose prey consists of sponges, coral, anemones, hydroids, barnacles, fish eggs, sea slugs, and other nudibranchs. To eat their food, most nudibranchs possess a radula, which is a toothed structure that they use to “chew” their food up. Some species suck out their prey after predigesting their tissue with selected enzymes, rather like a spider. Nudibranchs are very picky about what they eat, individual species or families of nudibranchs may eat only one kind of prey. Nudibranchs get their vivid colours from the food they eat, which in turn advertises to would-be predators, that they are poisonous, or at the very least foul-tasting. In any case, enough to be left alone by most.
With so many vibrantly coloured and interesting family members, what makes the Melibe engeli stand out? It’s not its size, this creature grows up to around 5cm. And this Melibe doesn’t have any bright colour patterns. But where its carnivorous cousins are going mostly after static prey, this particular species of Melibe is an active hunter, feeding on shrimps, crabs and other small crustacea which they catch by throwing the inflated oral hood over the substrate like a fisherman casting his net. This active “fishing” practice is a joy to observe. However, they lack a radula, which means that their swallowed prey remains alive in the gut until killed by digestive juices.
But what makes this creature even more special, is that it doesn’t rely only on catching its prey for sustenance, it also hosts algae farms in its tissues, that through photosynthesis produce nutrients for the Melibe in situations when food is scarce. The mutualistic symbiosis between different species of nudibranchs and unicellular photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium (often known as ‘zooxanthellae’) has been known to science for quite some time. Most “solar-powered” nudibranch species take up Symbiodinium from their prey of soft or hard corals and cultivate them inside the cells of their digestive glands. But since Melibe engeli feeds exclusively on small crustaceans, science is still baffled as to how this nudibranch picks up the symbiont zooxanthellae for its emergency solar farms.
What a beautiful world we live in, and how fortunate we are to be able to observe all these different adaptations to life on it!
#underwater #species #marine #relax #behaviour #TakeaMinute #diving #science #Indonesia #lembeh #nudibranch #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXV : Coral Reef ProtectionIn this session of tranquillity, we would like you to focus on the living art that is the coral reef. This particular reef, named Fan 38, is located at Wakatobi Dive Resort and is one of our favourite reefs on this beautiful Blue Planet. Reef-building corals consist of colonies of tiny animals, all sharing the same genes. In other words, any particular hard coral is one creature, as well as many creatures at the same time … When the conditions are just right, these animals can grow prolifically, albeit at a very slow pace, creating the cathedral-like structures we love so much.
These days, pretty much all of the coral reefs worldwide are under threat. Luckily, some localized conservation efforts are paying off, and allow the reefs there to recover. Coral reefs are pretty much a symbiotic organism in itself, depending on all the lifeforms that inhabit them, as well as those that visit temporarily, for survival. A technique that is used by pretty much everything in the natural world. Everything is connected …
Therefore, every action is affecting everything else. So, in nature there is no good or bad, there are only consequences. Unfortunately, our species seem to have forgotten this fact. Which is somewhat strange, since we ourselves are also symbiotic creatures of sorts, who depend not only on the world around us for sustenance, but on the amount and health, of all the bacteria, viruses, and other life forms that share our bodies with us. Take one away, or let another grow out of control, and we get sick as a result.
Same goes for coral reefs, which makes protection and conservation rather difficult, when dealing with a species like ourselves, temporarily claiming dominance over this planet, whilst being conditioned to forget about life’s equilibrium and focus on a fictitious monetary and power system instead. But try as we might, we can not change the fact that we are indivisibly linked to the world around us …
Many of the current reef conservation efforts around the world, like the one in Wakatobi, are private initiatives funded by NGO’s and/or tourism, and as such they’ve had a very difficult time over the last year. There are many people that believe that 2020 has been a good year for nature, and the planet as a whole, due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, but this is certainly not the case for the world’s oceans. Less supervision in protected areas has led to an increase in fishing activities there. As the world is hopefully opening up again somewhat this year, these conservation efforts are in need of your assistance. Our advice would be to look at the projects one can support when deciding their next holiday destination. Luckily for Fan 38, as well as the many other spectacular coral reefs in the region, Wakatobi Dive Resort has kept a skeleton crew on site, that together with the local authorities, has patrolled and protected the reefs that are part of their conservation efforts. So that when the first guests return to the resort, underwater paradise awaits them!
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #snorkel #coralreef #travel #Indonesia #wakatobi #savetheocean #reefprotection #wideangle #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXIV : Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi)In this Minute of tranquillity, we’d like to introduce you to one of the ocean’s most recognisable icons, the reef manta ray. The species was described in 1868 by Gerard Krefft, the director of the Australian Museum. He named it M. alfredi in honour of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the first member of the British royal family to visit Australia. It was originally described as part of the genus Manta but in 2017 was changed, along with the other manta species, to be included as part of the genus Mobula. The artist formerly known as Manta alfredi, is as famous, as it is graceful. This gentle giant is the smaller of the two manta species currently known to science.
Despite their distinctive flattened body, this fish is closely related to sharks. At the front, it has a pair of cephalic fins which are forward extensions of the pectoral fins. These can be rolled up in a spiral for swimming or can be flared out to channel water into the large, forward-pointing, rectangular mouth when the animal is feeding. The eyes and the spiracles are on the side of the head behind the cephalic fins, and the five gill slits are on the ventral (under) surface. It has a small dorsal fin and the tail is long and whip-like. The manta ray does not have a spiny tail as do their close relatives, the devil rays (Mobula spp.). The colour of the dorsal side is dark black to midnight blue with scattered whitish and greyish areas on the top head. The ventral surface is white, sometimes with dark spots and blotches. The markings can often be used to recognise individual fish. Mobula alfredi is similar in appearance to Mobula birostris and the two species may be confused as their distribution overlaps. However, there are distinguishing features.
The first difference is the size. M. birostris is bigger than the reef M. alfredi, 4 to 6 m on average vs. 3 to 4 m. However, when they’re young specimens telling them apart becomes somewhat difficult, in which case only the colour pattern remains an effective way to distinguish them. The reef manta has a dark dorsal side with usually two lighter areas on top of the head, looking like a nuanced gradient of its dark dominating back colouration and whitish to greyish, the longitudinal separation between these two lighter areas forms a kind of “Y”. While for the oceanic manta, the dorsal surface is deep dark and the two white areas are well marked without gradient effect. Meanwhile, the line of separation between these two white areas forms a "T". Also, the reef manta ray has a white belly with often spots between the branchial gill slits and other spots spread across trailing edge of pectoral fins and abdominal region. The oceanic manta has also a white ventral colouration with spots clustered around lower region of its abdomen. Its cephalic fins, inside of its mouth and its gill slits are often black.
Both species have the largest brain of all know fish species and are very curious and intelligent. Because of its large size and velocity in case of danger (24 km/h escape speed), the reef manta has very few natural predators which can be fatal to it, apart from some large shark species and orcas. Since there’s so much to tell about this beautiful creature, more info will follow in future Manta Minutes…
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #travel #Komodo #Manta #Indonesia #Mauan #Mobula #wideangle #Sony #HVR-V1 #Amphibico
Take a Minute XXIII : Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans)In this first minute of relaxation of the new year, we’d like to focus your attention on this gorgeous, but voracious little hunter. A juvenile Harlequin Shrimp. There are two types of harlequin shrimp. ”Hymenocera elegans”, is native to the Indo-Pacific region, and “hymenocera picta”, which is specific to Hawaii. The name of the genus “Hymenocera” is derived from the Greek words “hymen” (membrane) and “keras” (horn, or in this case antennae), indicating that this crustacean has lamina-shaped antennae. Whereas both “elegans”, as well as “picta” refer to the beautiful coloured spots adorning the exoskeleton of this decapod.
They are reef dwellers, preferring water temperatures of 24-29 degrees Celcius, and are especially partial to a habitat with spaces for them to retreat into, like branched corals or rock formations. Their eyes are positioned on stalks, and they have two giant flat claws that serve as snipping tools while harvesting their prey. Females are generally larger than males and can grow up to around 5cm.
Harlequin shrimp are white to light pink in colour, with splashes of bright coloured spots on their entire body, usually red, purple, orange, and blue. Despite their relatively small size, they have few natural predators. This is thanks to their markings and colouration. Like on land, in the ocean bright patterns are a red flag to predators of toxicity. In addition, their colouration serves as a wonderful camouflage when moving along a coral reef, mimicking the bright lights and shadows produced by the overhead sun.
What’s curious about the Hymenocera is that they live almost exclusively on a diet of sea stars. Some have been observed munching on sea urchins, but generally speaking, sea stars are their comfort food. The harlequin shrimp has two flat antennae that are used for detecting the scent of sea star prey. They will often hunt as mating pairs, and work together to overtake and devour their prey. One shrimp will use its claws to clip the soft tube feet attaching the sea star to its surface, while the other then pulls the creature away from the surface and onto its back.
Some harlequin shrimp will then drag the sea star to its lair, and feed on its tube feet and soft tissues. Unable to right itself, the starfish will then endure being eaten alive for a period of days to weeks, depending on the size of the starfish. Harlequin shrimp have been observed feeding the starfish to keep it alive for their consumption.
Harlequin shrimp mate for life, and are fiercely protective of their family territory. Once the pair finds a suitable home within the reef, they are known to stay within the area for months or even years. The pair mate after the female moulds, and can produce anywhere from 100 to 5,000 eggs per breeding season. This may seem like a lot of offspring, but the high demand for harlequin shrimp in the aquarium trade has made them rarer in the wild.
Since Hymenocera has a symbiotic relation with corals, this isn’t exactly good news for coral reefs! Hymenocera preys on sea stars that would otherwise eat the corals, and in return for its efforts, it gets a safe place to live. Without the help of these little creatures, the future of the reef as a whole is at risk.
#underwater #relax #shrimp #TakeaMinute #diving #reef #travel #Indonesia #Bali #harlequinshrimp #savetheocean #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXII : Soft Coral Cowrie (Primovula roseomaculata)In this episode of underwater relaxation, we would like to introduce you to this beautiful little Xmas creature that is dressed for the occasion. Primovula roseomaculata, also known as a Soft coral cowrie, Allied Cowrie, or False Cowrie, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Ovulidae.
Molluscs are a big and very diverse group of creatures consisting of animals as different as mussels and octopuses! Most colourful and strikingly patterned among the molluscs are the cowries. Their shells were used as currency in different cultures throughout history and are now prized collector items, due to their shining and often brightly coloured and patterned shell.
However, what we as ocean enthusiasts see, is not the shell itself, but rather the soft mantle of the animal, wrapped around the shell. The mantle is even more beautiful than the shell itself, often bearing a striking resemblance to the soft coral that these cowries prey on, even including tentacle-like protrusions, to completely blend in with its coral host. These branching papillae on their mantle are not only there to complete the finishing touch on their extravagant camouflage, but assist in the respiration of the cowrie as well.
Primovula roseomaculata usually live and feed on soft corals of the genus Dendronephtya. Due to the potent toxins used by these corals to deter predators, these cowries have adapted to only a single coral species. This behaviour has led to the rise of one of their common names, the “Allied Cowrie”. However, “Allied cowries” are in fact parasites, that harm their hosts. They feed on the coral’s tissues, mucus and polyps, and are able to absorb the pigments of their coral host, which enables these cowries to match their host's colour so well. Not only that, but Primovula roseomaculata has the ability to even extract the defensive chemicals of the coral host, and store them in the skin of its own mantle, where they can protect the snail from fish predation! The host coral will continually regrow the lost tissue, so the cowrie never runs out of food, and or ammo!
They start off their lives as free-swimming post-larval juveniles and probably detect chemical clues that signal a potential host is nearby. Hosts are often home to several individuals. When settled, cowries graze up and down the coral and eventually deposit their eggs on a bare branch, beginning the cycle all over again.
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #travel #Xmas #softcoral #Indonesia #lembeh #Softcoralcowrie #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXI : Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus)In this minute of relaxation, we invite you to look deep into the eyes of this beautiful creature and let it take you on a journey through time and space. Amphioctopus marginatus, also known as the “coconut octopus” and “veined octopus”, is a medium-sized cephalopod belonging to the genus Amphioctopus. Meeting any octopus is as close as we can currently get to an alien encounter. Their physiology is truly otherworldly!
They have a large brain that extends into the nervous system of their arms! Which means that its brain is not in 1 particular place, as with most other creatures, but has more of a “Multiverse” approach to brain function.
Lacking skeletal support, this creature’s arms work as muscular hydrostats and contain longitudinal, transverse and circular muscles around a central axial nerve. Which basically means that they can extend/contract their arms, twist left or right, bend at any place in any direction and/or be held rigid. Each arm has a multitude of muscle controlled suction cups, that can grab, feel, manipulate, and even taste objects. Octopuses are basically “brains with arms”, or “thinking muscles”, that can control their bodies to such an extent, that they’ll fit through any opening the size of their beak. The parrot-like beak of all octopus species contain venomous saliva and is the only hard part of their bodies.
Octopuses, as well as some other cephalopods, are capable of greater RNA editing (which involves changes to the nucleic acid sequence of the primary transcript of RNA molecules) than any other organism. More than 60% of RNA transcripts for their brains are re-coded by editing, compared to less than 1% for that of a human’s. This allows the octopus to evolve/adapt/learn from the experiences of previous generations, without actually being taught.
Octopuses have 3 hearts and depend on the copper-rich protein, haemocyanin, for oxygen transport throughout the body. Although in cold conditions and with low oxygen levels, haemocyanin transports oxygen more efficiently than haemoglobin, it also tends to make the blood thicker, resulting in blood pressures that can exceed 75 mmHg (10 kPa). But, with 3 hearts, the octopus isn’t really worried about high blood pressure. As an added bonus, the haemocyanin makes the octopus’s blood look blue-ish. True royalty!
Named for their use of coconuts as tools for defence, the coconut octopus can also use clamshells, or these days a variety of plastic rubbish, depending on their size. Although they have the ability to burrow and hide in the sand, they prefer the extra security these tools are giving them. Often the shells and husks that the coconut octopus gathers, will be used for dens or “defensive fortresses”.
Amphioctopus marginatus is even capable of bipedal (2 legged) movement and slit-walking, which allows them to carry the coconut or clamshells, with the remaining 6 arms. The octopus will carry a shell with it while searching for another, testing several as it scavenges as a hermit crab might. Coconut octopuses are commonly found throughout the tropical Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Their main body is normally around 8 centimetres (3”) tall and including the arms, approximately 15 centimetres (6”) long.
Their diet includes invertebrates such as shrimp, crabs and clams, although they will also eat small fish if they can catch them. With three to five years the coconut octopus has one of the longer life spans for octopuses. The primary contributing factor to determining their life span is when they decide to mate. The coconut octopus reaches sexual maturity between 18 and 24 months of age. Once a male mates he will die within weeks, sometimes days thereafter. The female will die only after she has laid her eggs and they have hatched.
The mating ritual of the coconut octopus is a “fast and furious” affair. Males prefer to insert their sperm packet with their specialized “sex arm” into the mantle of the female as quickly as possible. It has been observed in the wild that the females often strangle the males that hang around too long, and then eat them. Not quite the preferred dinner date... To avoid being eaten, male coconut octopuses employ the “mate and dash” technique. Some also disguise themselves as females in order to stand a chance while approaching.
Since the mating style of the coconut octopus is designed to be as fast and as distant as possible, there have been observations of a female octopus “entertaining” two or more male suitors at once. Yes, a saucy coconut octopus underwater orgy, so to say. Since the female carries the sperm packets in her mantle until she is ready to lay her eggs, having sperm packets from multiple males is not a problem. Consequently, the hatchlings that emerge from a specific brood can have multiple fathers. What a fascinating alien creature this octopus is!
#coconutoctopus #lembeh #underwater #relax #arms #TakeaMinute #suckers #mating #brain #octopus #Indonesia #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XX : Yellow pygmy goby (Lubricogobius exiguus)The star of this week’s episode of “Take a Minute” goes by many names, of which "Yellow pygmy goby" is just one. Since the name so perfectly describes this creature, I could’ve probably just left that… Anyway, Lubricogobius exiguus is a member of the family of Gobiidae. This family is tremendously large, comprising of over 2000 species in more than 200 genera, spread over 6 subfamilies. And yet none of them can be considered big. This cute little creature can grow to a maximum size of about 4cm. They prefer to inhabit muddy substrates, usually with rocky outcrops of rubble and/or debris, and can often be found in pairs, living in empty shells, holes, or in between the branches of hard coral, like Acropora, that provide them with a safe place for their eggs, as well as themselves.
Lubricogobius exiguus is one of those species that seems to have made the best of a bad situation, by seeing the ever-increasing amount of man-made rubbish coming into the ocean, as new real estate opportunities! These days, this species can often be found in discarded bottles, cans, and other trash with small openings. They feed on a variety of algae, plankton, and small invertebrates. This particular species of bright yellow fish doesn’t exactly blend into it’s preferred habitat of drabby dark colours. Thereby creating a contrast that seems irresistible to underwater photographers, and “critter enthusiasts” alike.
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #travel #mindful #soul #Indonesia #lembeh #Yellowpygmygoby #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XIX : Moon-headed sidegill slug (Euselenops luniceps)In this minute of relaxation, we’d like to focus your attention on a curious-looking sea creature digging in the sand, named the “Moon-headed sidegill slug” (Euselenops luniceps).
Euselenops luniceps is a species of sea slug, a pleurobranchomorph gastropod mollusc in the family Pleurobranchaeidae. This family of sea slugs is known as "side-gilled slugs" since they have their gills hidden on the right side of the body under the mantle (the body edge).
This slug is perfectly adapted for living in a sandy environment. In most pleurobranchs, the foot and mantle are of similar size but in Euselenops the foot is much larger, which makes it easier to crawl over sand, or burrowing underneath it. Posterior, the mantle folds into a relatively long siphon or tube, which allows the mantle cavity and gills to remain in contact with fresh seawater while the animal is buried in the sand. With the incoming seawater, the animal can also sense chemical released by potential prey nearby.
It has a large oral veil fringed with lots of sensory 'hairs' on the underside to detect prey. This unique looking creature roams along sandy and silty sea bottoms for food with a very pronounced large oral veil, which underneath is fringed with tiny sensory "hairs" (papillae), to help it detect prey. Although it is a predator, little is known about what it eats. It appears they have a particular fondness for anemones, however, they have also been observed on sand flats at low tide, where they hunt and swallow whole any invertebrates that they touch with their large oral veil.
While most sea slugs move quite slowly, Euselenops with their active food gathering approach can move surprisingly fast. Not only does it have speed, but this slug can also actually swim for some distance by flapping the sides of its body, much in the same way as its more famous cousin, the “Spanish Dancer” (Hexabranchus sanguineus) does.
Despite the fact that many websites claim the maximum size of this creature is approximately 7cm, this particular specimen filmed in Amed (Bali), was closer to 20cm.
We hope you’ll enjoy your Minute with this weird and wonderful creature ...
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #travel #conservation #Euselenopsluniceps #Indonesia #bali #nature #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XVIII : Round Batfish (Platax orbicularis)In this minute of visual meditation, we invite you to glide with a school of round batfish over a beautiful reef in Wakatobi. To avoid confusion with the other batfish of the family Ogcocephalidae, members of the group known as anglerfish, these round batfish are often referred to as spadefish or platax.
The body of Platax orbicularis is almost disc-shaped and very thin. Its tail, about 20% of the body length, is fan-shaped and is taller than it is long. Males can grow to up around 50 cm (20 inches) in length. This species has a wide range that extends from the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. They have been recorded off the coast of Florida as well, although this is thought to be the result of dumping of aquarium specimens.
These fish can be found singly, in small groups, and occasionally in large schools around reefs and wrecks, at depths ranging from 5-30 meters. Small juveniles are yellowish to reddish-brown and resemble leaves drifting amongst flotsam at the surface or moving along the bottom in the current. Platax orbicularis normally feeds on algae, invertebrates and small fishes, but has been known to spice their diet up at times with the occasional anemone.
What is lesser-known, is that this species is a singer! Though their calls are not quite as melodic, as say that of birds, they are certainly diverse. Like with birds, their choruses occur mostly at sunrise or sunset, and sometimes both. Why they perform these serenades is still up for debate, but their songs seem to have a distinct staccato beat to them. Although the acoustic abilities of certain fish species still need further research, the benefits of it are pretty clear. Singing offers considerable advantages as it means the fish can communicate at night when predators can’t see them, and due to the density of the water, it allows them to communicate over long distances and bring animals together for spawning events. All species of fish can make sounds, but only some can sing. This evolutionary talent occurs in the ‘swim bladder’, a large bubble of gas inside most fish that is used to control their buoyancy. Singing fish can control the muscles of their swim bladder, driving it to create sound. This makes Platax orbicularis an even more interesting creature than it already was.
Enjoy your swim with these beautiful shiny, silvery, musical fish.
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #coralreef #travel #Indonesia #wakatobi #savetheocean #reefprotection #wideangle #roundbatfish #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XVII - Squat Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)Our creature of interest in this one-minute episode of visual meditation goes by many names. Squat shrimp, anemone shrimp, dancing shrimp, sexy shrimp, just to name a few. Thor ambionensis has a maximum body length of 13 millimetres. Their base body colour varies from red/orange to light brown, and even green. They have irregular blue/white circular marks on the body. In the centre of these marks, there are yellow lines and dots. On the brown coloured specimens, the colours in the centre of these marks are slightly different. There are two or sometimes three similar coloured bands around the tail area and the tail fan has similar coloured markings on the top and the bottom. There are three sets of walking legs and a set of legs with small pincers known as chelipeds and a proportionally longer set of feelers. They have a habit of holding their abdomen above their head and wagging the tail giving them one of their common names.
Though it is named after Ambon, or Amboyna Island, one of the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, Thor amboinensis has a pantropical distribution and can be found in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and even at the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Canaries. They prefer to live in a symbiotic relationship with anemones, but when none are around, can also be found in certain species of corals.
Living among the tentacles of their preferred host, the voracious anemone offers them a safe home from which they can feed on tentacle tissue, as well as on the mucus-trapped planktonic particles adhering to it.
The female Thor amboinensis carries the fertilised eggs under her abdomen until they are ready to hatch. The zoea larvae pass through several stages and, before undergoing a metamorphosis, are attracted by both chemical and visual cues which cause them to settle near potential host anemones. Researchers found that the larvae of Thor amboinensis were generalists, being attracted by and accepting several different species of anemone as hosts. In some experiments, they had a preference for the species of anemone from which the parent shrimp had been collected.
It’s always fun to spend some time with these little fellows and watch them dance around, shaking that booty.
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #reef #travel #Indonesia #Bali #squatshrimp #savetheocean #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XVI: Halimeda ghost pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda)The guest star in this Minute of visual meditation is the Halimeda ghost pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda). The name of this creature is derived from the Greek words soleno, meaning tube-like, and stoma, meaning mouth. Whereas the word “Halimeda” comes from the green calcareous algae, in which this creature can most often be found.
Although they’re closely related to pipefishes and seahorses of the family Syngnathidae, they differ from Syngnathids in both structure and behaviour. Instead of armoured rings, ghost pipefish are covered with large bony plates. They tend to swim upside down through their preferred habitat, which makes them very difficult to spot. Feeding on tiny crustaceans, especially mysids, which are rapidly sucked in through the long tubular snout, ghost pipefish are ambush predators, that stealthily approach their unsuspecting prey from above, in this head-down position.
Unlike Syngnathids, where the males take care of the fertilised eggs in a special pouch, with Solenostomidea it’s the female who carries the eggs in a brood pouch formed by the fusion of her pelvic fins, which are continuously fanning fresh water over the eggs. Most species of ghost pipefish spent a relatively long period floating around in the ocean as plankton, reaching almost adult length before they finally settle onto the reef. This means that they have a wide geographic range since they can travel long distances after they are born. However, since they only spend the adult/reproductive part of their lives on the reef, it also means that divers have a very short time frame to find this creature in a particular spot before they disappear. This time frame is no doubt made even shorter by the large number of predators inhabiting the reefs.
They're generally found living in pairs with the smaller, skinnier of the two male and the larger individual, with bigger fins the female. The Halimeda ghost pipefish is with its maximum of 7 cm, the smallest of the 6 scientifically recognized species of Solenostomidea. As their name suggests, they’re to be found among Halimeda algae growing on the reef. The head of a Halimeda ghost pipefish is almost equal to the length of the body. Their rounded fins are perfectly resembling the growth segments of the Halimeda algae it prefers to inhabit. The species is highly variable in colour (from bright green or red to white) and is sometimes covered with fine filaments that give the fish a 'hairy' appearance.
A very special little critter that is worth spending some time with. Should one be fortunate enough to come across one ...
#underwater #relax #meditation #TakeaMinute #diving #reef #travel #Indonesia #Bali #halimedaghostpipefish #savetheocean #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam