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!

Side by Side

Side by Side

It has been a while, but I am back…and with a treat!

On this picture we see a beautiful Hypselodoris tryoni (formerly known as Risbecia tryoni) nudibranch having dinner.
Right beside its host’s head is an emperor shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) enjoying the same buffet.
This is one of the most wonderful relationships to be found in nature: a pure example of mutualism.
While the shrimp, living on the nudibranch, crawls all over it from head to tail, it controls parasite infestations.
The shrimp -on the other hand- saves energy, covering a larger distance then it would on its own, searching for food.
If you take a careful look you notice that the purple colour of the shrimp’s legs, joints and rostrum edge exactly matches the colour of the nudi’s mantle edge. This results in an improved camouflage for the hitchhiker that will be better protected from potential predators.
A match made in heaven…. traveling along…. side by side!

Look at me I am a nudi!

Look at me I am a nudi!

Believe it or not but this is a sea cucumber. To be more accurate: a juvenile Blackspotted sea cucumber (Pearsonothuria graeffei). This beautiful little thing mimics a Phyllidia nudibranch in order to be thought equally distasteful by potential predators. Interestingly, the less colourful adult form of this species possesses toxins that do make it unpalatable to eat. Juveniles however lack this kind of defense and are forced to be resourceful in order to stay alive long enough to develop this chemical protection.

When a completely harmless species mimics a toxic or distasteful species it is called Batesian mimicry, of which this juvenile sea cucumber is a great example!

The Underwater Christmas Spirit

The Underwater Christmas Spirit

Who says that the Christmas atmosphere cannot be found in tropical places where it is always sunny (or should I say ‘always warm’, it has been pouring cats and dogs this whole week after all)?
To be honest: I do.
Beaches, 30-degree temperatures and palm trees just don’t match with “cozy family gatherings by the fire or under the Christmas tree”.
So I went looking for the Christmas feeling below the ocean surface. Camera in hand I was determined to shoot every scenery that reminded me of all things related to this holidays season.
I actually had a lot of fun and was even surprised by how many subjects I found, I just could not stop taking pictures! I spend four dives shooting just that: Christmas-like sceneries. I even found a ‘snowy landscape’ and a Christmas Angel (which is in fact a feather duster worm spreading its golden ‘wings’)!
One of my favorites you see here.
This beam of ‘heavenly light shining down onto the innocent crinoid’ is actually taken with a snoot. My first snoot ever. And I really like the effect it gives in this picture.

I used the best images to make original underwater Christmas cards. I think especially divers will like them. At least I hope that will be the case 😉
For those who are interested all these images I took and the Christmas cards are to be found on my website: http://www.greetm-photography.com

Enjoy!

Portrait of an Alien

Portrait of an Alien

People have not been very original when naming this species. Nor have they been very consistent either. Because this shrimp has long, thin arms ending in red claws it has been named: Thin-arm Shrimp, Long-arm Shrimp and Red-scissor Commensal Shrimp. Since most of its body is completely see-trough it is also known as Ghost Shrimp, Glass Shrimp, Transparent Commensal Shrimp and Invisible Shrimp. Even the scientific name it is not entirely unequivocal. Is it Cuapetes or Periclimenes tenuipes?
Anyway, I do not think this mother-to-be has any sleepless nights over how she is called; she has obviously more important things on her mind right now, like protecting the eggs she is carrying….
Cuapetes (or Periclimenes) tenuipes individuals are free-living on sandy bottoms or in holes. Sometimes they are found on sea anemones and sponges. Presumably looking for food as they feed on parasites, algae and plankton.
Apparently they sometimes live together with mantis shrimps as well as these predators are found sharing their hole with one of these tiny aliens.

Jungle Crab

Jungle Crab

Not so long ago we came across this woolly peculiarity.
Aptly named after the orange coloured acrobats of the rainforest, the Orangutan crab is characterized by long legs covered with hairs and debris.
The species belongs to the family of the decorator crabs (Inachidae) but the genus identification (Oncinopus sp.1, formerly classified as Achaeus japonicus) is still uncertain.
While often spotted on bubble corals, this individual was balancing on the thin branches of a hydroid colony.

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!