Evil Eye

It may be a bit of a sour title to accompany the text on such a lovely and intriguing fish, but the words are chosen carefully: when Signal Gobies (Signigobius biocellatus) feel threatened they erect their dorsal fins to reveal two big eye-spots or ocelli. Looked at from the side, these spots mimic the eyes of a bigger animal, with the aim to convince any potential predator to leave this fish alone.

Once the Goby can relax again, it carries on with its usual business of feeding and digging burrows.

This Crab-eyed Goby, another common name, is a typical sand sifter, meaning that it feeds by scooping up sediment with its frog-like mouth and filter it through its gills.

Twin-spot Gobies, as they are also sometimes called, form monogamous pairs.
The couple spends a lot of time digging burrows that will serve as shelter or a place to lay their eggs. Once the female is ready to reproduce she will lay her clutch inside one of the burrows the couple carefully prepared. After that she will usher the male inside and seal him in for a couple of days. A couple can attend up to six burrows with eggs at more or less the same time. After the incubation period only one juvenile fish will appear out of each hole.

The range of occurrence of these charming fish is not that big. They are known from the Philippines, Australia (the Great Barrier reef), Palau, Indonesia (mainly Sulawesi and Halmahera), New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

We consider ourselves very lucky to have found this pair in Bali!

Pikachu of the sea

Pikachu of the sea

This strange looking nudibranch is known in Japan as the Pikachu sea slug.
Amongst the Japanese it is very popular and believed to be the inspiration to create Pikachu, the beloved Pokémon.
In Thailand dive guides refer to it as ‘Bugs bunny’ because of the ear-like appendages: the extrabranchial and extrarhinophoral processes.
The proper name of this beauty however is Thecacera pacifica.
A member of a genus with many undescribed species!

Giant Fan of Black-blotched Marble!

Giant Fan of Black-blotched Marble!

The islands south of Bali, that is where the big fish are. And that is where we were going. We planned three days of diving, hoping it would be enough to capture the majestic Mola mola on film. Since there is no Mola, also known as Ocean Sunfish, displayed above you might suspect we did not succeed. Indeed, no Mola ever presented itself to us. Nonetheless we did some magnificent diving: We have seen turtles, lots of schooling fish, a bamboo shark passed me by and marbled stingrays showed up from the deep. Like the one you see on this picture: As we were scanning the barren depths, hoping for something big to show up, we got lucky. Not before long this Giant Reef Ray gently glided through the water. Even better: It swam straight towards me. This was it. I knew I had one chance, 1 shot. I waited for it to swim into the right composition and pushed the shutter. It was rather dark as you can see. I was close to a depth of 37 metres, in unpredictable waters known for its crazy strong currents, down currents and washing machines.
On previous dives we witnessed vortices being formed, swirling up the sand in no time. It was very surreal. We were keen not to get into that kind of mess especially while holding our cameras, with no hands free to handle our BCD or even to hold on to something.
That is why, after the one shot I was able to take, I looked at the ray and bid him farewell.
“This will have to do”, I thought, and started to ascent.