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 auf den Philippinen 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 scientifically!). 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 (Miteinander, ob gleichgesinnt oder andersartig). 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 (Tanz mit Mantas: Begegnungen auf Augenhöhe). 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 XLVII: Hard coral polyps (Hexacorallia)In this episode of visual meditation, we invite you to absorb the details of hard coral polyps. Identifying coral species is rather difficult as corals constantly grow and can take on quite different shapes as they adapt to environmental conditions such as water movement.
We have to admit we don‘t know which coral Yoeri filmed here in Wakatobi. The Indonesian region in the South-East of Sulawesi is almost at the centre of the so-called coral triangle, the area of the world where the diversity and abundance of corals are the highest in the world. We wrote about "The reefs of Wakatobi" in episode XI and "Coral Reef Protection" in episode XXV of our series „Take a Minute to Relax“.
Diving along those reefs was such a joy, in particular, because of the thriving corals. Total bliss in forms and colours. During our three years as Dive Experience Managers at Wakatobi Dive Resort, we learned an easy way to distinguish between hard and soft corals. While soft corals have eight feathery tentacles (these little arm-like extensions), hard coral polyps have six smooth-looking tentacles or a multiple of six tentacles. Hence, soft corals form the class Octocorallia, whereas hard corals are Hexacorallia.
Both classes of corals use stinging cells, nematocysts, located in their tentacles and outer tissues to capture their food. It is the same kind of stinging cells jellyfish possess.
„Nematocysts are capable of delivering powerful, often lethal, toxins, and are essential in capturing prey. A coral's prey ranges in size from nearly microscopic animals called zooplankton to small fish, depending on the size of the coral polyps. In addition to capturing zooplankton and larger animals with their tentacles, many corals also collect fine organic particles in mucous film and strands, which they then draw into their mouths.“ - https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_corals/coral01_intro.html
Under the cover of darkness or with strong currents, coral polyps extend their arms to feed. The prey is pulled into the polyps‘ mouth in the centre from where it goes to the stomach for digestion.
Stony corals have skeletons of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is secreted by the lower portion of the polyp. This way every polyp produces a cup, or calyx, to sit in. The floor of this cup is called the basal plate and the walls around it are called the theca. From time to time, each polyp lifts off its base and secretes a new basal plate above the old one. This way the colony keeps growing outwards.
Even though for us it looks like corals consist of many single polyps, a coral is in fact one big colonial organism. All these polyps are genetically identical. Apart from secreting CaCO3, the colony grows by budding. When a polyp reaches a certain size, it divides. You can observe all the different phases of budding on the reefs.
Most corals have a unique partnership with zooxanthellae, tiny algae. These algae live within the coral polyps. Out of carbon dioxide, a waste product for the coral, and sunlight the algae create sugar for energy (photosynthesis). This energy goes to the polyp, providing most of its daily food. In return, coral polyps provide a protected home for zooxanthellae.
The brilliant colours of certain types of corals stem from the algae. Multiple environmental factors such as water temperature, sedimentation or nutrients can throw off the balance of this fruitful symbiosis, the algae turn toxic. Eventually, the coral is forced to expel it. As a result, the corals turn white, a phenomenon that is known as coral bleaching.
In addition to being among the most captivating and biologically diverse habitats in the ocean, barrier reefs and atolls are some of the oldest marine habitats of our planet. Coral reefs make up less than 1% of the ocean's floor, yet are home to more than 25% of all marine life. Even a lot of pelagic species start their life out on coral reefs. The oceans depend on healthy coral reefs for their inhabitants and so do we! Coral reefs provide a lot of different services.
To begin with, coral reefs are considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century. Drugs developed from coral reef animals and plants are tested as cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
Sustainably managed coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries and provide jobs and income beyond this sector. Tourism and recreation with all the backward and forward linkages to local economies depend on healthy reefs and oceans.
Intact coral reef structures protect the shores against 97% of the energy from waves, storms, and floods. This way corals help prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion. So, by protecting the reefs, we are in fact protecting ourselves!
#underwater #corals #hardcoral #TakeaMinute #diving #relax #coralreef #savetheocean #protectcorals #Indonesia #wakatobi #GH5s #Nauticam #sulawesi #macro
Take a minute XLVI: Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)"Take a Minute to Relax" and observe another weird and wonderful creature hiding in the coral reefs: Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus). The leaf scorpionfish, also called paperfish, is definitely the most elegant of all the ambush predators. Ambush predators, also called sit-and-wait predators, are carnivorous animals that get to their meals by stealth or by strategy rather than by speed or by strength.
Ambush predators sit and wait for prey, often from a concealed position and, in the case of our marine candidate here, concealing themselves by different methods of camouflage. Blending in has created some remarkable features, giving these creatures quite unique looks. As one would expect from animals specialised to suck their prey in, their heads and in particular their mouths are quite large in comparison to their overall body size. By opening their mouth quickly, they create a sucking motion strong enough to catch and swallow their prey in one bite.
So much on ambush predators in general, back to our little Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) in particular. It comes in many colour variations from black, red, yellow and white to pink, green, brown or ochre. It always works with dark or light mottling to match their surroundings or siimply perfect their elegant and timeless disguise of an ambush predator.
Taenianotus triacanthus is amongst the smaller ones of the scorpionfishes, only up to 10 cm when fully grown. Its unusual shape lets it stand out: flattened body from side to side and tall as the sail-like dorsal fin, with 12 spines starting right behind the eyes, is lifted up most of the time. As you can see, there is a darker line going across its eyes to break up the outline. Sometimes this line is more spotted. Its dark pupils have a rim with yellow spots which continues as stripes into an area around the eyes where all leaf scorpionfish show a radiant pattern in various colours.
Taenianotus triacanthus has several small appendages to assist with blending in and sometimes even real algae or hydroids settle on its skin. The anal fin has an additional three spines and even though the venom of leafies is considerably weaker than the one of lionfish or stonefish, it should be avoided.
Same as with other ambush predators, swimming is not its strong point. Instead, leaf scorpionfish use their large pelvic fins to wedge themselves into position. Then they simply sit and wait until suitable prey, a small fish or crustacean, approaches. To look inconspicuous, leafies rock gently from side to side, pretending to be a dead leaf moved by the water. This camouflage is perfected by irregular brown to black (or white) blotches over their bodies. If they have to move, they tend to hop or walk on their pectoral fins. Once their prey is within striking range, it is sucked in by a sudden opening of the mouth.
Unlike other scorpionfishes their look is elegant and timeless, they can’t just change with the blink of an eye. Every 10 to 14 days leaf scorpionfish moults and this way can change its colour step by step over a longer time period. Pieces of old skin stay attached to the body and assist in the overall camouflage. Interestingly, some leafies match the colours of their surroundings quite perfectly, while others a clearly more flamboyant and, colourwise, stand out quite a bit. This does not seem to be a problem for their hunting technique. We have observed leafies staying in the same spot for years and not feeling the need to adjust their colour to match their surroundings.
Taenianotus triacanthus is widespread around the world. You can meet leafies from east African coast and the Red Sea to the tropical Indo-Pacific, north to the Galapagos Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Hawaii, and the coast of New South Wales. They can be found anywhere in tropical waters on coral reefs, from shallow water to a depth of 130 m. However, in Wakatobi where this footage was taken they preferred to hang out in between 2 and 7 metres.
The females produce eggs that are released into the water and then fertilized by a male. Afterwards, they float near the surface until they hatch.
Scientific classification / taxonomy
Species: T. triacanthus
#scorpionfish #leaf #camouflage #ambush #ambushpredator #takeaminute #relax #underwater #diving #marinelife #Taenianotus #Taenianotustriacanthus #leafscorpionfish #wakatobi #indonesia
Take a minute XLV: Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus)In this round of „Take a Minute“, we present you with the Giant moray eel (Gymnothorax javanicus). Granted, at first glance it neither looks relaxed nor relaxing. However, it opens and closes its mouth simply for breathing. Moray eels have relatively small oral cavities with the gills sitting behind them. The constant gaping pumps oxygen-rich water with fresh oxygen through. That is why morays often swim with their mouth open.
If a moray wanted to make a thread display, it would hold its mouth wide open to show off its sharp pointy teeth. There is a second row of teeth in the upper jaw, assisting in grabbing prey and holding it tight. By the way, all of these teeth are pointing backwards. But not to worry, same as with all of our aquatic friends, they rather flee from humans if given the chance than attack. Only cornered animals with no way out, e.g. in the case of people hunting for crayfish and sticking their hands into cracks on the reefs, will attack. Okay, and some species attack when nesting and guarding their young. Surely, we can all relate to that.
Gymnothorax javanicus is the biggest of all moray eels in terms of body mass. It can weigh more than 30 kilograms and can grow up to three meters in length. However, the longest moray eel is the slender giant moray (Strophidon sathete). Juveniles are still light brown with large black spots, while adults turn darker brown with leopard-like spots behind the head.
Giant morays are carnivorous and hunt their prey along the reef - often but not exclusively at night. They go after fish as well as crustaceans or octopuses. Sometimes, groupers such as roving coral groupers invite giant morays to hunt with them by shaking their head in the direction of the prey. While the moray can get into the reef and this way may scare prey up and out, the grouper hunts above the reef and might scare prey to seek refuge in the reef. Either way, the other predator is waiting. Similarly, Yoeri observed giant morays hunting together with jacks and napoleon wrasses. If the giant moray can‘t get the prey down in one go, it either wraps itself around it to crush the victim until it is small enough to be swallowed, or it tears pieces from the prey and eats it bite-by-bite.
When researching the giant moray I found some pages and videos referring to it as alien-like. I think they got it wrong: The alien from the movie Alien is clearly moray-like. Moray eels have a second set of jaws with teeth in their throat called pharyngeal jaws. Morays first latch onto their prey with the outer jaws. Then they actively use the pharyngeal jaws to pull it deeper down into the throat and stomach. They are the only fish using pharyngeal jaws to capture prey. When hunting by themselves they rely on their excellent sense of smell instead of their rather poor eyesight.
Moray is a fish with a dorsal fin that runs along the full length of its body. They don‘t have pectoral or pelvic fins and swim in an undulating motion, pretty much like snakes. Morays don‘t have scales but thick skin with many cells secreting lots of mucus. In some species the mucus contains toxins. While sand-dwelling morays use the mucus to stabilize the sides of their burrows, eels such as the giant moray living in cracks and crevices in the reef might just glide through the habitat with more ease this way. Possibly, it helps the giant moray to stay clean. Divers can often observe cleaner wrasses and shrimps taking care of the set of teeth as well as the rest of the muscular bodies of giant morays.
This giant moray was filmed by Yoeri at the house reef of Wakatobi Dive Resort in Indonesia with a Panasonic GH5s in a housing of Nauticam and with lights of Archon. However, the species is widespread not only in the Indo-Pacific but all the way from the Red Sea and the eastern coast of Africa via Polynesia, the Pitcairn group and Hawaiian islands to the west. North to south, giant morays can be found from Japan to New Caledonia, Fiji and Australia. Giant morays live in lagoons and on the outer slopes of coral reefs. During the day, they mostly stay inside reef crevices between 1 and 50 meters deep.
Giant moray reaches sexual maturity when they are around 2,5 years old. For mating, giant morays wrap their bodies around each other and release eggs and sperm simultaneously. Morays as so many other ocean creatures are hermaphroditism. Some are sequential, meaning they change their sex over the time of their lives, and others are synchronous, having both reproductive organs. Courtship usually happens when water temperatures are high. After the larvae have hatched, it floats through the ocean for a year or so. As soon as the larvae is big enough, they swim down to the reef and hide there while slowly turning into the next generation of moray eels.
#moray #eel #giantmoray #diving #takeaminute #wakatobi #sulawesi #indonesia #underwater #relax #GH5s #nauticam #filming #panasoniclumix #archon
Take a Minute XLIV: Long-arm Octopus (Abdopus sp.)It is time to take a minute to relax again. Sit back and enjoy the mesmerising beauty of a Long-arm Octopus (Abdopus sp.). Even though this octopus is quite common in the Philippines and Indonesia, it hasn't been scientifically described yet. Hence, its scientific name just ends in sp. for species. As there is another long-armed octopus in the Atlantic (Macrotritopus defilippi), our cephalopod is often called a White V octopus instead.
Abdopus sp. likes living around (black) sand slopes with mild currents.
The head of this octopus is usually around 6 cm in size, while the arms can reach 15 cm in length. These long arms are marked with a series of white spots on the body and a “V” shaped mark on the back of the head. Generally, they are coloured light brown to brownish red. When this octopus is resting inside a small hole in the sand, usually only its head sticks out. In general, long-arm octopuses are quite shy. Yes, it is octopuses, not octopi (read explanation here: https://devocean-pictures.com/lets-talk-scientifically-pictures-and-classifications-of-marine-life/).
In this case, we were lucky enough to meet the long-arm octopus (Abdopus sp.) while it was out and about searching for food. Same as mimic octopus which is closely related to them, the long-arm cruises along the bottom in a teardrop shape.
We wrote a long story on the body, brain and nervous system of octopus in "Take a Minute XXI" as well as what they eat and how they mate: https://devocean-pictures.com/coconut-octopus-amphioctopus-marginatus/
Therefore, we focus on other aspects regarding their arms now. First of all, octopuses have arms, not tentacles. There are other cephalopods with tentacles such as cuttlefish (https://devocean-pictures.com/photography/savvy-softies-octopus-cuttlefish-and-squid/), but an octopus is all about arms! More precisely, eight arms. Hence, the name octo (Greek for eight). Even though it was called a foot first (pus from pous for foot).
Maybe, feet turned into arms when people observed what an octopus can do with them. Each arm has around 280 suckers (~2,240 suckers in total). They are used for:
"When an octopus sustains an arm wound, they don’t get a scab or scar as we would. Instead, a layer of cells called epithelium (the same cells that make up our skin layer) covers the wound and beneath this, the regeneration process begins. A study reported that the first sign of regeneration came in the form of a tiny knob on the arm edge, 3 days after injury. After 11 days, they observed a protrusion which turned into a hook-like structure by day 17. By day 55, a complete structure (mini arm) was visible and by day 130, the new arm tip had fully regenerated." - https://octonation.com/facts-about-octopus-arms/
Some species of octopus can even drop an arm to confuse a predator. It can keep moving for up to five hours. This defence tactic is called “arm dropping” and apparently some String-Armed Octopuses manage just fine with only 2 arms! However, this species can regenerate its arms as quickly as 6-8 weeks.
For hunting, octopuses use an arm or more to feel out the nooks and crannies in the reef and grab anything wanting to escape with another one. A different technique is net fishing. In this hunting strategy, the octopus spans its whole body over a small piece of coral or such. Only when it has blocked all escape routes, it starts poking around with its arm to get its prey out of hiding and into the net with eight arms. The longer the arm, the easier the catch? Possibly.
We hope there will be more studies on this interesting marine creature soon. Subscribe to our channel for more ocean stories.
Besides, we ask for your help in the name of octopuses. Spain plans to set up the first worldwide octopus farm. Usually, industrial farming leads to problems, be it inside the ocean or on land. Read more on this project and its problems and put our name down against octopus farming: https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-save-octopuses-from-slaughter-and-suffering-at-first-ever-commercial-farm/
#longarmoctopus #lembeh #octopus #underwater #relax #arms #TakeaMinute #suckers #Indonesia #macro #diving #octopusfarm #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XLIII : Tiger Shrimp (Phyllognatia ceratophthalma)In this episode of Relaxation, we would like to focus your attention on a gorgeous little creature that goes by the name Tiger Shrimp (Phyllognatia ceratophthalma). Since its scientific name is of very little help, this creature has multiple common names, and is therefore also known as, Spiny Tiger Shrimp, Bongo Shrimp, and Horned Bumblebee Shrimp, just to name a few.
This very shy and cryptic shrimp grows up to about 2cm, and likes to hide out in sponges, rubble, algae or broken coral, or in an encrusted mix of all of the above. They look extraordinary, with their beautiful colouration. As they grow older, spikes randomly jutting out from their bodies.
Most shrimps are omnivores. However, the diet of the Tiger Shrimp is not totally clear yet. If they behave similar to other shrimps in the family of Palaemonidae, they might feed on the feet of various Echinoderms, like seastars, brittle stars, urchins and sea cucumbers, for example. Other than using their legs to move around for short distances, the Tiger Shrimp is actually able to swim.
They use a technique named drag swimming, by which they use a cyclic motion where they push water back in a power stroke and return their limb forward in the return or recovery stroke. When they push water directly backwards, it moves their body forward, yet as they return their limbs to the starting position, it pushes the water forward, which in effect will move them back to some degree. This opposing force is called drag, and causes drag swimmers to employ different strategies than lift swimmers. Reducing drag on the return stroke is essential for optimizing efficiency.
As one can admire in this clip, the Tiger Shrimp has beautiful eyes. Each ommatidium (optical unit consisting of photo-receptors and usually multiple lenses) is equipped with a set of plane mirrors. The superposition compound eyes are aligned at right angles, forming a square. Causing light that enters the eye at an angle to encounter two surfaces of each mirror box rather than only one surface. In this case, the pair of mirrors at right angles acts as a corner reflector, which reflects incoming light rays through 180 degrees, irrespective of the light rays originally came from. This ensures that all parallel rays reach the same focal point and means that the eye as a whole has no single axis, which allows it to operate over a wider angle.
Since so little is known about this beautiful creature, we see it as an ambassador for reef/ocean conservation. Who knows what wonderful abilities and behaviour we might miss out on, when a life that has hardly been studied, disappears from our oceans forever!
#Tigershrimp #Phyllognatiaceratophthalma #underwater #relax #TakeaMinute #diving #reefconservation #shrimp #Indonesia #Lembeh #savetheocean #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XLII : Ornate Ghostpipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus)In this Minute of relaxation, we would like to introduce you to a very cryptic creature, that is very much loved by divers and snorkellers alike, the Ornate Ghostpipefish, a.k.a. Solenostomus paradoxus. In this clip, we see the Ornate Ghostpipefish in one of its favourite hiding places, namely among the feeding arms of a crinoid named a Feather Star.
Solenostomus paradox is a stunningly beautiful creature, that has a bizarre way to move around. It spends all of its life swimming with its head down. They can be recognised by their distinctive body form, with slender appendages on the body and fins. It has deeply incised membranes in the dorsal, caudal and ventral fins. Ornate Ghostpipefish come in different colourations; White-Red, Gold-Red or Black-Golden, and grow to a maximum size of around 12 cm.
They are fairly widespread in the Indo-West Pacific and can be found in depths ranging from 5m-35m. Although they are closely related to Seahorses, they differ in several ways. An Ornate Ghostpipefish’s head is held at an angle to the body, but not to the extent of that of the seahorse. Ghostpipefishes have two dorsal fins whereas seahorses only have one. In addition to that, Ghostpipefishes do not have an actual brood pouch in which they rear their offspring. Instead a female Ghostpipefish, as opposed to the male seahorse, looks after the eggs in a pouch formed by her modified ventral fins.
These fins are greatly expanded and united with the abdomen along the upper margin, and together form an improvised brood pouch of sorts. The females carry up to 350 eggs in this ventral brood pouch. Solenostomus paradoxus can often be found in mating pairs, which makes it easier to spot the difference between the two. The females are much larger in size, with males being around 37% smaller. However, as with much other marine life, they are able to change their sex during their lifespan.
After the eggs hatch, they will be released into the ocean’s currents, to start their pelagic phase as tiny larvae. Once they have grown a little more mature, they start to settle on the sea floor. Transparent in colour they try to protect themselves from predators, by being as inconspicuous as possible. Before long, they begin to mature even more. When they reach the phase in their lives that they are old enough to breed, they head up to an area which offers them good hiding places, as well as potential mates. This is where they start to gain their beautiful colourations, camouflaging alongside Crinoids, Fan coral, Black coral bushes, and algae.
The scientific name “Solenostomus paradoxus” roughly translates to marvellous tube mouth, which honestly sounds way better than their common name. “Solen” means tube, “stoma” is the mouth, and “paradoxus” means marvellous/unexpected. Overall quite an apt description of this gorgeous creature. Their tube-like mouth turns out very useful in their hunt for food. As they slowly hover around in a face-down position, their tube-like mouth can create quite an under pressure when opened quickly. In this fashion, they suck up their unsuspecting prey. Solenostomus paradoxus mainly feeds on mysids, small shrimps, or other tiny crustaceans, but can also eat small fishes at times.
These incredible creatures are a delight to watch!
#Ornateghostpipefish #Solenostomusparadoxus #underwater #relax #TakeaMinute #diving #ghostpipefish #travel #Indonesia #Bali #savetheocean #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XLI: Goniobranchus kunieiIn this relaxing episode of “Take a Minute”, we would like to introduce you to a pretty creature named Goniobranchus kuniei. This colourful little beauty is a dorid nudibranch, of the Chromodorididae family. The Order Nudibranchia of which this creature is part differs from other sea slugs. The name “Nudibranchia” is derived from the Latin word “Nudus” meaning naked, and the Greek word “Branchia” meaning lungs/gills. This describes the breathing organ that these creatures carry on their backs.
Goniobranchus kuniei is widely distributed in the central, and west Pacific regions. They like water that is of a temperature between 21°-27° C and can be found at depth of between 5m-40m. A pattern of blue spots with pale blue haloes on a creamy mantle, and a double border to the mantle of purple and blue let them stand out. They are known for raising and lowering their entire mantle edge in a single movement, creating a dish-like shape to the mantle and exposing its foot and oral tentacles. There are two ways. They either just raise the anterior or posterior portion separately or the whole mantle edge as a wave from front to back.
Being closely related to the sea slug family, Nudibranchs are slow-moving creatures. They have millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of their fleshy “foot”. These help them maintain a good grip, whilst they move forward by expanding and contracting the muscles in their “foot”. Some Nudibranchs can even swim, or propel themselves along, by muscular contraction of their “foot” in a flapping fashion, to escape from would-be predators.
Being small, in the case of Goniobranchus kuniei up to around 5 centimetres, and being slow, Nudibranchs would be easy prey for any hungry predator on the reef. However, these creatures have come up with an ingenious solution to that problem. Goniobranchus kuniei feeds on sponges with a rasp-like tongue. These sponges contain toxins that the nudibranchs will store in their flesh, and can secrete through their mucus. This makes them either very distasteful or outright dangerous to eat. They advertise their chemical properties by their flamboyant appearance. Their bright flashy colours are a warning to would-be predators.
These magical creatures are the true chemical brothers of the ocean. Although most have some form of eyes in their heads, these mostly provide no other visuals than light and shade. They “see” their surroundings through chemical interpretation, which they pick up with two specialised organs on the top of their heads, named rhinophores. Since these are very important organs, the rhinophores of the Goniobranchus kuniei arise from slightly raised translucent pockets into which they can withdraw.
Like all members of the order of Nudibranchia, Goniobranchus kuniei are simultaneous hermaphrodites. During mating, these creatures engage in a “fencing match” with their penises, in order to induce one of them to act like a female. The one who is first to penetrate the body wall of the other will be the dominant male, whereas the other will assume the role of a female. After mating, the eggs will be deposited in a beautiful ribbon on a particular substrate, where they can develop and hatch to start their pelagic larval stage. Eventually, they’ll find their way back to the reef, as well as their food, through chemical clues given off by the reef.
What an incredible, amazing and beautiful creature this is!
#underwater #Nudibranch #Goniobranchuskuniei #TakeaMinute #diving #goniobranchus #marinelife #hermaphrodite #Indonesia #lembeh #seaslug #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XL: Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)In this relaxing Minute, we invite you to swim alongside one of the more famous and beloved ocean creatures, the Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). These marine reptiles, and yes they are reptiles, have been roaming the world’s oceans for an incredibly long time. It is believed that the “Cheloniidae” family, the name of these marine turtles, has been living on our planet since the last Mesozoic Era, more than 100 million years ago! Making them some kind of living fossils.
Their scientific name Eretmochelys imbricata, is derived from the Greek words “eretmo” meaning oar referring to its oar-like flippers and “chelys” meaning turtle. The second part of the scientific name “imbricata” comes from the English word ‘imbricate’, which means ‘having overlapping edges’, and refers to the overlapping scales of the Hawksbill’s carapace. There are currently actually 2 subspecies known to science, namely E. imbricata imbricata (a.k.a. the Atlantic Hawksbill), and E. imbricata bissa (a.k.a. the Indo-Pacific Hawksbill).
The Hawksbill is one of the smaller species of sea turtles, growing up to about a meter in length. It has a characteristically narrow, pointed beak and a beautiful patterned shell/carapace, which has serrated edges towards the lower end. These turtles are in fact omnivores that will dine on a wide variety of food sources, including jellyfish, corals, fish, anemones, molluscs, marine worms, crustaceans, and other plants and animals. However, Hawksbill turtles feed primarily on sponges.
They show a great level of feeding selectivity, in the way that they only eat certain species of sponges, some of which are toxic to other animals. But there is more to their diet. In fact, their type of feeding provides a great service to other marine life on the coral reefs. Without hungry hawksbill turtles, the reefs would quickly overgrow with sponges, taking the space for slower-growing corals to thrive. Hence, hawksbills play an important role in the ecosystem and contribute to the overall health of coral reefs and wider marine life.
Hawksbill sea turtles reach sexual maturity between 20 and 35 years of age (around 20 in the Caribbean and 30-35 in the Indo-Pacific). It is estimated that they can live between 30 and 50 years in the wild. Hawksbills will lay eggs every 2-4 years during those sexual mature years. Nesting is the moment when the female turtles, who have come back to the place of their own birth, leave the water. This allows observing them on the sand of small beaches, where they dig a nest to lay their eggs. Such a nest is usually about 50cm /19” deep. After they have laid their eggs inside, they cover them with sand again. Each egg is approximately 36 mm in diameter and 28 g in weight. About 60 days thereafter, the young ones will hatch. Interestingly enough, temperature determines the sex of these hatchlings. When the temperature is around 29°C/ 84.2°F, the male-to-female ratio is about 1:1 in the nest. When the temperature rises, more female baby Hawksbills turtles will be born. If it drops, the baby Hawksbill turtle males will dominate the hatching. This fact is worrisome, not only to scientists, as the averages temperatures on our planet continue to rise.
Unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are critically endangered and therefore listed in appendix I of CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals, as well as the "Red list" of IUCN (International Union on Conservation of Nature). These listings lead to the fact that the trade of this turtle’s beautiful carapace/shell has been made illegal, in an effort to conserve the population. Despite this, the Hawksbill turtle shell is still found in souvenirs and jewellery. In fact, it’s still the most frequently confiscated illegal item by customs officials …
This clip was filmed by Yoeri diving at Balicasag island, the Philippines, with a Sony V1p in an Amphibico housing in 2010.
#seaturtle #worldseaturtleday #hawksbill #Eretmochelysimbricata #Balicasag #turtles #diving #TakeaMinute #conservation #Philippines #savetheocean #reefprotection #SonyV1p #Amphibico
Take a Minute XXXIX: Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)After many episodes that focused on the smaller and more cryptic marine life, in this Take a Minute we’d like to introduce you to the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). The name of this creature has confused people for many years, and unlike what it seemingly suggests, this creature is in no way related to whales. The only reason this was added to its name, was to give people an idea about the immense size of this fish.
Rhincodon typus can grow up to a size of around 18 metres when given the chance. Although most adults that are encountered by people are around 12 metres in length. Not only are these creatures very large, but they can live to be around 130 years! Despite its enormous size, and the amount of research that’s been done on them, much of the whale sharks' life is still shrouded in mystery. This is probably due to the fact that whale sharks migrate and can easily travel great distances. One particular tagged specimen was recorded to travel nearly 15.000 kilometres, in a little over 3 years. On top of that Rhincodon typus can dive to a depth of around 1,500 metres. All of this makes it very hard for scientists to study this iconic creature.
As mentioned before, not everything is known about the reproductive behaviour and life cycle of whale sharks. But what we do know is that Rhincodon typus reaches sexual maturity around 30 years of age, and is ovoviviparous. Meaning that the female lays eggs and keeps them inside of her body. When fertilised, they will hatch, but remain safely inside until they are fully formed and strong enough to start their life outside of their mother’s body. A whale shark can give birth to about 300 pups that are about 40-60 cm in length, and already look like a miniature version of their parents.
Although whale sharks are no threat to humans and are referred to as the gentle giants of the ocean, they do have teeth. In fact, they have more than 3,000 teeth stacked in 300-350 rows, which is more than any other shark species. Despite all these teeth in their enormous 1-1,5 metre mouths, these sharks are filter feeders. Meaning that these animals feed by straining suspended matter and food particles from water. They typically do so by letting the water pass over a specialized filtering structure. Due to the fact that they play such an important role in clarifying water, filter feeders are considered to be ecosystem engineers.
The whale shark also feeds by active suction feeding. This occurs when they are in a vertical position. The animal opens and closes its mouth, sucking in volumes of water, then expelled them through the gills. Rhincodon typus can process over 6,000 litres (1,500 gallons) of water each hour in this fashion! The whale shark’s most common diet consists of plankton, copepods, krill, fish eggs, jellyfish, red crab larvae and small nektonic life, such as small squid or fish. To eat, the whale shark opens its formidable sized jaws and passively filters everything in its path. This technique is called “cross-flow filtration”, and is similar to how some bony fish and baleen whales feed.
The distinct pattern of white spots on the whale shark’s back is unique, and no two are alike. Which makes them a bit like human fingerprints, and helps scientists identify individuals. Since swimming with this creature is high on the list of divers and snorkellers alike, we can all contribute by making our photos available to organisations and researchers that study this incredible creature.
#whaleshark #Philippines #Bohol #Anda #diving #savetheocean #TakeaMinute #underwater #SonyV1p #Amphibico #LAMAVE #Rhincodontypus
Take a Minute XXXVIII : Harlequin Crab (Lissocarcinus laevis)This relaxing Minute features a colourful character, and its relationship with anemones, as well as certain coral species, and even some sea cucumbers. In it, we see a Harlequin crab caught with its hand in the cookie jar, as it tries to get to some food before the anemone can eat it. As we look closely at this little scoundrel, we can see that the last hind legs are larger and flatter than the other ones. This is because they belong to the Portunidae family, also known as swimming crabs. With these flattened hind legs, these creatures are capable of swimming through the water column, when the need arises. However, like most swimming crabs, Lissocarcinus laevis prefers to keep its feet firmly on the seafloor, or on its host for that matter. But it’s nice to have options.
This small, yet ornate species of swimming crab has a very smooth, reddish, light brown carapace with large white to yellow spots and markings which are often interconnected. So smooth in fact, that their genus name actually means "smooth crab". Its claws are banded with white and brown/red bands. The females can be slightly larger than the males and can grow to a width of about 3,5cm, with a body that is wider than it is long. As with most crustaceans, after the eggs are fertilised by the male, they’re carried under the body of the female, who will protect and oxygenate them, until it's time to release them. Once they hatch, the larvae go through a pelagic phase of several weeks, before settling down and growing into their adult form. They are guided to their host species, by the chemicals these host creatures release, to attract their symbionts. Interestingly enough, the chemicals produced by these host species might actually be meant to deter predators and parasites, but for Lissocarcinus laevis it’s a chemical trail, that leads to a compatible host, and hopefully the start of a long-lasting symbiotic relationship.
Chemical sensing is considered to be the most ancient and universal form of communication in the biosphere. All living organisms are able to detect chemical cues in their respective environments. These cues allow for different types of intra- and interspecific interactions between organisms. For example, mate recognition, prey/predator interactions, and symbiotic associations. The communication between symbionts and their hosts is needed to ensure appropriate host selection, as well as maintaining the symbiotic relationship through time, but is just one of the many chemical conversations that are taking place below the surface of the ocean.
Although the symbiotic relationship of the Harlequin crab with its host is very common throughout the Indo-Pacific, the exact nature of the relationship between the hosts and symbiont is still somewhat unclear. Something which has made it very hard for scientists to classify their relationship on the symbiotic spectrum. It is currently listed as “commensal”, meaning one species gains benefits from the relationship while the other neither benefits nor is harmed. Harlequin crabs are predators, that eat shrimps and other tiny planktonic organisms, as well as leftover food from their hosts. Scientists believe it might also be feeding on parasites from its hosts. If true, it might mean another shift on the symbiotic spectrum, but no studies have been done yet to prove this hypothesis.
#Harlequincrab #Lissocarcinuslaevis #swimmingcrab #underwater #crab #Amed #TakeaMinute #diving #symbioticrelationships #anemone #Indonesia #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute to Relax XXXVII: Slender Filefish (Monacanthus tuckeri)In this minute of relaxation, we bring you another Caribbean addition to this series. The small but beautiful Monacanthus tuckeri, a.k.a. the Slender filefish.
Although most individuals encountered, range between 2-5cm in length, they can potentially grow up to 10cm! They have laterally compressed, slender, elongated bodies, with a tapered snout, and protruding eyes that are located high on their heads. Filefish have a slender retractable spine on top of their heads, which is incorporated in their first dorsal fin. This spine/dorsal fin actually contains two spines, whereby the second far smaller one, is used solely to lock the first spine into its upright position. This explains the family name Monacanthidae, from the Greek "monos" meaning "one" and "akantha" meaning "thorn".
Like their cousins the triggerfish, filefish have small gill openings and their pelvic fins are lacking. Instead, there is an extension of the pelvic bone, known as the pelvic rudiment, with skin attached to it. This "pelvic girdle" is capable of moving up and down in many species, to form a large “dewlap”, which can make Monacanthus appear much larger than it actually is. Some filefish erect the dorsal spine and pelvis simultaneously to lodge themselves into place, making it more difficult for a predator to remove the fish from its shelter. It may also be used for communication purposes with other filefish.
The small mouths of this creature have specialized incisor teeth, on the upper and lower jaw. In the upper jaw, there are four teeth in the inner series and six in the outer series; in the lower jaw, there are 4-6 in the outer series only. These teeth allow them to be opportunistic omnivores, that dine on macroalgae, filamentous algae, seagrasses, coralline algae, sponges, hydrozoans, bryozoans, and tunicates. A small portion of their diets includes foraminiferans (shelled protozoa), polychaete worms, smaller species of bivalves, snails, ostracods, amphipods, and shrimp.
They have non-overlapping scales that bear “spicules”, which are small, needle-like anatomical structures, protruding from the centre of each scale, giving them the rough and tough, sand-papery skin, that together with its body shape inspired the filefish's common name. Monacanthus isn’t a particularly strong swimmer, and relies more on crypsis, camouflage, and hiding, to avoid being eaten. Slender filefish are often found around soft corals, like sea whips, rods, and fans, but also in seagrass, hydroids and algae, where they align their movements perfectly with that of the ocean’s swell. Despite lacking the power, their body shape allows them to manoeuvre effortlessly around these complex environments. They love hanging out vertically in the water column, and on top of that, these incredible fish can quickly change their colouration and patterns, making them not easy to find.
But when you find one of these small ocean dancers, enjoy their performance for as long as you can! For it might all be over, in the blink of an eye…
#Slenderfilefish #dive #caribbean #underwater #StEustatius #STENAPA #CNSI #Scubaqua #Statia #Monacanthustuckeri #marinelife #macro #filefish #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXXVI: Feather Duster (Tube) Worm (Sabellastarte spectabilis)In this session of relaxing minutes, we would like to introduce you to a critter that uses a flamboyant feature of itself, to mask what many people would deem an otherwise gross appearance. Yes, Sabellastarte spectabilis is, despite its beautiful name, not some fluffy plant or coral in a variation of colours, but in fact a humble worm. However, don’t let this little detail change your opinion of this creature. Sabellastarte does really make an effort to look more appealing than just another worm. As a matter of fact, another member of this family of worms, the Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus corniculatus), was the inspiration for the beautiful Helicoradian plants on the moon Pandora, in the hit movie Avatar (2009).
Sabellastarte spectabilis has a segmented tubular body of around 8cm long, and roughly 1cm wide, and can be found in the more sheltered regions of the tropical reefs and lagoons around the world, ranging from 5-100m of depth. This worm creates a leathery-looking tube from its own mucus secretions and attached sediment and/or sand. Others use calcium carbonate or chitin, and some even have a trap door to close their tube off, in case of lurking danger. These tubes are then embedded, or attached to a variety of substrates, from where they compete with other organisms for food and space. Some even have the ability to physically, or chemically burrow into corals and/or limestone. As a defence mechanism, these creatures are able to quickly retreat into their tubes, when disturbed by potential predators.
It may come as a surprise, but Sabellastarte has eyes! And some species have more than others. They have multiple eyes along the sides of their bodies, as well as appendages called chaeta, which allows the worms to anchor themselves inside their tubes and aid in the retraction response. These eyes will likely let the worm know whether it’s still within the safety of its tube. Perhaps they might even locate areas of the tube that need maintenance. In some species, eyes may also be found on their heads and/or on the highly specialised, feather-like feeding tentacles, that stick out of the tube. That’s a lot of eyes for one creature! While some of these eyes might simply detect light and darkness, others might be more complex compound eyes capable of producing a picture and detecting movement. Similar to that of more active predatory marine worms, or flying insects.
Like many other sedentary life forms, Sabellastarte is a “filter feeder” that dines on planktonic prey and detritus, brought in by the currents. They do this by using the only visible part of themselves, their beautiful exposed plumage. Each feeding tentacle is called a radiole and is covered by feather-like pinnules and a sticky mucous, that form a fine mesh net, to capture any food particles that float by.
Short vibrating microscopic hair-like structures, called cilia, cover both the radiole and the pinnules. Cilia can also be found in humans, where it lines our lung surface and windpipe, and capture and remove dirt particles and mucous. Vibrating cilia on the ventral surface (underside) will create an up-current, directing particles through the radiole and pinnules, where they can be caught. From there, a decrease in pressure makes the particles fall into the ciliated groves on the dorsal (upper) side of the pinnule, from where it will be transported via several other ciliated, mucous-lined food grooves down to the actual mouth. There the particles will be sorted. The edibles will continue their journey into the worm itself, the rejected particles will be removed via other ciliated grooves away from the mouth. Some of these particles will be stored, and used for repairs on the actual tube when it has sustained damage. In addition to all that, the large surface area of the plumage also acts as gills, making them technically known as branchiae, since they're used for respiration.
With so many important functions located in a small area, one would think that if a predator was quick enough to bite a chunk of the plumage, the worm would surely die. But sabellastarte has the uncanny ability to regenerate damaged or lost body parts! Several species have shown to be able to control the loss of the crown of tentacles, a process known as autotomy. Lizards have a similar process whereby they intentionally lose a tail in order to distract a predator and enable their escape.
They reproduce by spawning, releasing eggs and spermatozoa in the water column in the hope that they will find one another before any predator, including themselves, get to them. Strangely enough, Sabellastarte is also capable of reproduction by fragmentation, also known as "budding".
So you see, there’s a very interesting creature is hiding behind those colourful plumes!
#underwater #Sabellastartespectabilis #marinelife #relax #Featherdusterworm #TakeaMinute #diving #Tubeworm #Indonesia #Wakatobi #feather #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXXV: Roughhead Blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera)In this minute of relaxation, we would like to introduce you to a creature, that despite being quite the character, is often overlooked by most that visit the tropical reefs of the Caribbean. This rather ragged-looking creature is a fish, that goes by the scientific name of Acanthemblemaria aspera. Since this is quite the tongue twister, it thankfully has an alias in the common tongue that is much easier to pronounce, namely Roughhead Blenny. Looking at the creature, it’s easy to understand how this name came to be. The so-called “roughness” refers to the slender appendages/hair-like growth on the blenny’s head named “cirri”. Incidentally, the word “cirri” is derived from the plural version of the high altitude cirrus cloud, which are able to create these beautiful, whispy, and streaky patterns in the sky. Just to give you an idea, of how awesome its haircut is!
Some might say that Roughheads look a bit pre-historical in its appearance, and they wouldn’t be wrong with that observation. Fossiles of Blennies date back to the Paleogene period, which started about 65 million years ago. To put that in perspective, that is around the time Keith Richards was born!
If one intends to admire Acanthemblemaria aspera in all its glory, as well as its amazing haircut, of course, it would probably be best to bring some form of magnification device, be it a macro lens or a magnifying glass, for this funky little fish grows to a maximum size of 4cm/1”. They inhabit shallow coastal waters from 2-20m/6-60ft and are not overly picky about where they live. They are known as burrow creatures and find a place to live in just about every nook and cranny of the reef, if not in the corals themselves. Not that they construct their own burrows, but more that they occupy holes left by other marine life, like worms and molluscs. A bit like a squatter with good hair, so to say. Although some of them have been known to bury themselves in the seafloor.
They come in many different colour variations, and can adapt their colouration to blend into any neighbourhood they happen to find themselves in. That being said, the females are often more lightly coloured. They’re oviparous, and after mating the female covers the walls of the male’s burrow with her eggs, and leaves them for him to defend until they hatch. After which the young fry go through a 22-day pelagic phase, and eventually settle down in a new area to find a home for themselves. They have excellent eyesight and prefer to dine on drifting, floating, or falling amphipods and/or copepods, that happen to pass by their burrows. This “hunting” action results in a kind of swaying head movement, which has led to the creature’s nickname, the “Stevie Wonder Fish”.
Another stunning creature, in another beautiful part of this amazing blue planet!
#underwater #Roughheadblenny #marinelife #relax #St.Eustatius #TakeaMinute #scubadiving #Scubaquadivecenter #Statia #Acanthemblemaria #blenny #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXXIV: Thorny Seahorse (Hippocampus histrix)In this episode of “Take a Minute to Relax”, we invite you to look deep into the eye of one of the most effective and successful hunters, not only of the aquatic realm but of the entire planet. This is the eye of Hippocampus histrix, a fish that also goes by the common name of Thorny or Spiny seahorse. Their scientific genus name “Hippocampus” is derived from the Greek words “Hippos & Kampos”. “Hippos” means horse, and “Kampos” means sea monster. The Romans later adopted it as “Hippocampus”. In both Hellenistic and Roman imagery, it was depicted as a two-hoofed horse creature with a fishtail, that drew the “chariot” of the sea god Poseidon/Neptune. Looking at the creature, it’s not too hard to understand why science adopted the “Hippo” part of its name, but the “Kampos” (sea monster) part, seems a bit far fetched at first.
With their elongated bodies, covered in an armour of bony plates, and prehensile tails, they look nothing like any of the traditionally shaped fishes. However, equipped with fins for propulsion, gills for breathing, and even a swim bladder to control their buoyancy, these oddly shaped creatures are indeed fish from the Family Syngnathidae. They usually can be found in shallow tropical-, and temperate waters, but also do occur in some colder water in places like New Zealand, Argentina, and Canada. Their usual lifespan ranges between 1-5 years.
But there's a lot more to this creature, than just its strange appearance. To say that seahorses are not very good swimmers, would be somewhat of an understatement. Their main source of propulsion is delivered by a small fin on their back, that although it can flutter up to 50 times a second, gives them very little speed. They're however capable of covering large distances, by simply using their prehensile tail to hang onto pieces of seaweed and/or debris, which can carry them to far of places.
Hippocampus does neither possess any teeth, nor stomach! Therefore, the food they consume passes through their system so quickly, that they have to eat almost constantly, in order to survive. Their diet consists of plankton, plants, small fishes, and crustaceans, like shrimps and copepods. Adults will typically have between 30-50 feeding sessions a day. Baby seahorses are called “fry”, and like the teenagers of our own species, can consume an incredible amount of food. Their food intake can be an astonishing 3000 food pieces a day! They have one of the highest success/kill rates of any creature in the animal kingdom. 90 %, compared to say lions with a 25%, and even sharks are well below 60%. Their eyesight is excellent, and they are able to move their eyes independently from each other, which makes it easier to spot their food, whilst they use their tube-like snout as a suction device! Due to their lack of movement, and ability to blend in with their environment, their tiny prey has no idea of their presence, until it’s too late.
Hippocampus are essentially serial monogamists and stay with one partner for as long as possible. They also have voices and can make grunting sounds, as well as clicking noises. Some of these noises are made on a couple’s daily romantic “confirmation dance”, that takes place each morning, whereby the couple dances and pirouettes together for a couple of minutes, often resulting in the iconic heart-shaped pose of their heads and upper bodies, before separating for the rest of the day. They have this morning ritual to confirm the other partner is still alive, reinforce their bond and synchronize their reproductive cycles. After courtship, the female deposits her eggs in a specialised breeding pouch of the male, where he fertilises them. This “male pregnancy” lasts between 10-25 days, depending on the species. The number of young released by the male seahorse at the end of term, are on average between 100–1000 babies. Under normal circumstances, less than 1% of these will ever make it to adulthood, which explains the large number of offspring. Whilst the male is taking care of the “pregnancy", the female can use her energy into producing the next batch of eggs.
Seahorses can not only change the colour but even the texture of their skin. Not just for camouflage purposes, but also to communicate and express their emotions. They do this by contracting or expanding pigment cells known as chromatophores. These muscle manipulated cells can be controlled by the nervous system, for quick changes in appearance, or by hormones for slower more flamboyant changes. On top of that seahorses are masters at the game of hide and seek. They have for instance figured out that humans often manage to find them, because of their iconic horse-like body shape, and therefore often lay down flat on the bottom, in order to remain hidden.
What an incredible creature this is!
#thornyseahorse #Hippocampushistrix #seahorse #underwater #relax #lembeh #TakeaMinute #diving #malepregnancy #colourchange #Indonesia #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam
Take a Minute XXXIII: Sarasvati Anemone shrimp (Periclimenes sarasvati)In this episode of “Take a Minute to Relax”, we would like to focus your attention on a small treasure, that’s easy to overlook. This little beauty is a commensal, and often symbiotic genus of semi-transparent shrimp within the family Palaemonidae, which has been labelled with many common names, depending in which region of the Indo-Pacific it is found. Anemone- Carid, Cleaner, Commensal, or even Glass shrimp, due to the fact that their bodies are almost transparent. However, the scientific name “Periclimenes sarasvati” rolls so nicely of the tongue, and is beautifully befitting! It has been named after the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, which is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. Periclimenes sarasvati is relatively easy to distinguish from other species in their genus, by the red stripe(s) going through their white eyes. The one in this particular shot also seems to have a bundle of pink eggs in her abdomen. One of the advantages of a transparent body!
This pretty creature grows to a maximum of 2,5cm and can be found on coral reefs from 2 - 40 meters of depth. They prefer to live in small groups and will form symbiotic relationships with host species, like anemones and corals. It is at these host species, that the Periclimenes sarasvati will set up shop, and open their cleaning business. Because most all reef-, and pelagic fish species enjoy a good cleaning session once every so often, to rid themselves of parasites, help clean any wounds they might have, and lower their overall stress levels, these cleaners are generally very well respected. However, when one is so small, it can’t hurt to provide your services from the safety of a voracious killer like an anemone, to which one can retreat, when a customer is showing signs of bad behaviour/intentions. These cleaning stations are fairly easy to spot for anyone diving, and/or snorkelling on a particular reef. When a reef fish hovers over, or next to an anemone or coral for a while, one can be pretty sure that there is a cleaning service in progress at that particular spot.
If and when one manages to approach a cleaning station in such a manner that disturbs neither the “staff” nor the “customers”, one gets the opportunity to observe the behaviour of both, the personnel and their clients, in this cleaning operation. Periclimenes sarasvati tend to hover a fair distance over their host species, to advertise that they’re willing to receive customers. When a fish approaches, they first retreat to the safety of their host’s stinging tentacles, from which they will assess if their potential client is giving the right signals. During this time they may “clap” their hands/arms together in a particular sequence, advertising their willingness to start the cleaning activities. If, and when the customer displays the right submissive behaviour, signalling they are ready, and willing to be cleaned, without any “funny business”, multiple Periclimenes sarasvati will go to work and clean the customer’s skin, potential wounds, gills, and even the inside of their mouths. Quite some fish will change skin colour before, and during their treatment, to inform the cleaners that they will behave appropriately during the proceedings. After observing all of this, one might even be rewarded with a free manicure themselves!
#underwater #Sarasvatishrimp #marinelife #relax #behaviouralscience #TakeaMinute #scubadiving #reefprotection #Indonesia #WakatobiDiveResort #anemoneshrimp #macro #PanasonicLumix #GH5s #Nauticam