Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wild and Wondrous Fish of Puerto Galera, Philippines

School of batfish
Fish of the Philippines come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like fish a child might draw but many others are like visions out of your wildest dreams. Diving in a biodiversity hotspot like the Philippine archipelago gives me a rare chance to encounter some of these strange and wild animals. Do keep in mind as you are reading this post that all the animals pictured here, no matter how different they look, are ALL fish.
Blue spotted stingray
Sea Moth
Horned Bannerfish

Ribbon Eels, Moray Eels, and Snake Eels
Moray peering out from its lair
Ribbon moray, Rhinomuraena quaesita
    Moray eels have long been one of my favorite photo subjects. They look menacing enough with their razor sharp teeth but have yet to show any kind of aggressiveness towards me. I am used to moray eels in Hawaii and California but here in the Philippines we have a few other eels to keep an eye out for as well.
Snake Eel
    Ribbon eels are a species of moray we don't have back in Hawaii. Juveniles and sub-adults are jet black with a yellow dorsal fin, while females are yellow with a black anal fin with white margins on the fins. The adult males are blue with a yellow dorsal fin. We haven't found a blue one yet but hopefully at one of our next dive spots we can find him. That is one of our big missions to come.
  Snake eels are a bit more mysterious. They live buried in the sand with only their head exposed at times. Wild eyes and incredible camouflage mark the snake eels we have found here so far.

Frogfish and Pufferfish
   Talk about weird and unusual. These fish are definitely not out of some kids book. Throw all you think of how a fish should look out the window and you will find some of the cutest fish you never knew existed.

Regal Angelfish
Juvenile Emperor Angelfish
  It can be so hard to find angelfish in Hawaii, but here in the Philippines they are hard to miss. If you can get a fast enough shutter speed to stop action these fish provide a photographers dream with some of the most beautiful colors and patterns outside of the realm of nudibranchs.

Sea Horses and Pipefish
  Another creature you might mistake as not being a fish. Sea horses have a very wide range but tend to live in areas where divers don't frequent as much. They like shallow sea grasses and estuaries and typically live in one small area for a long time. Unfortunately these areas are at risk from a lot of man made activities as well as being harvested in the millions every year for traditional medicine purposes. The closely related pipefish are also high on scuba divers' lists of fish to find here in the Philippines. Pipefish, like their relatives the seahorse, leave most of parenting duties to the males. Though it has been seen that if a male pipefish lacks the proper nourishment he may digest his forming embryos.
Hippocampus barbiganti
Hippocampus barbiganti
The real highlight from this group of fish is finding a pygmy seahorse. They are about the size of your thumbnail and take a very well trained eye to find. Heidi and I were lucky enough to see pink and yellow pygmy seahorses on our second to last dive in Puerto Galera.

Scorpionfish mug shot
Lionfish with a tasty morsel
Scorpionfish and Lionfish
  When you hear 'dangerous fish', maybe big predators comes to mind. But I would think about these guys. Scorpionfish and lionfish are chalked full of venom. They also happen to be beautiful with numerous appendages and striking markings.
  Lionfish have made a name for themselves around the globe as invasive pests, decimating foreign reefs. But this is where they are from. Native to these reefs they are still voracious predators. I caught a picture of this one above out on the hunt.

There are still more fish out there to find. We are headed to Malapascua and Dumaguete next. Clown frogfish? Blue ribbon eel? Maybe even a thresher shark will be seen. We checked a lot of amazing creatures off the list here in Puerto Galera but more missions remain. Plus the lure of beautiful beaches, shipwrecks, deep dives, and coral gardens draws us on to explore more islands of the Philippines.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leaving a comment is a great way to provide feedback, ask further questions, and inspire more go for it.