Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bizarre and Wondrous Fish of Tulamben

Can you see the pipefish?
  As you have seen from the last posts, there is amazing biodiversity in Indonesia's waters. A lot of these unusual animals are very small so it takes a trained eye to find them. This post focuses on some of the more bizarre and colorful fish that are found in Indonesia, specifically ones that I came into contact with while diving off Tulamben with Phoebe, Erica, and Heidi. These fish came in all sizes from a blade-of-grass sized pipefish to an eighty pound bumphead parrotfish.

Robust Ghost Pipefish
But what connects all of the fish pictured here is the fact that they are either beautifully colored, or have extraordinary body shapes which fit them into the bizarre and wondrous category by yours truly.

Bumphead parrotfish among the wreckage of the US Liberty

Pics for Sale
  Anemone fish like those pictured to the left always make for some of my favorite photographic subjects. Not only are they beautifully colored but their anemone homes provide the perfect background. I was very surprised to come across these three pink anemonefish whose home anemone had closed up. However there was still room for the fish to dive back inside its protective stinging tentacles and disappear out of sight.
Juvenile Frogfish
  This tiny orange frogfish on the other hand stayed perfectly still, hoping its camouflage would hide it from predator and prey alike. Camouflage fish are another favorite of underwater photographers because of the interesting coloration and patterns coupled with the fact that they usually stay still and pose for the camera.

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish
   The juvenile emperor angelfish on the other hand does anything but stay still. This particular angelfish was so timid and flighty that it took me several tries to actually get him in the photo frame! Patience paid off though as he might boast the most amazing patterns and indigo blue color of any fish we saw.
   Wrasses like the one to the right often have beautiful coloration. They are one of the largest families of fish with over 600 species found throughout the worlds oceans.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish
On the hunt
  This post would not be complete without a look at the ornate ghost pipefish. This was a very rare treat and quickly became Erica's favorite find which is saying a lot. These beautiful fish look like a cross between a pipefish and a seahorse. It seemed unfazed by our presence as it continued to hunt in the sand along the slope.

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