Thursday, December 29, 2005

For Kate

One of the many tiny octopuses found last night. If you are really an octo-freak, like Kate, check out The Octopus News Magazine Online

Wednesday Night Supreme

Thanks to Lendell, Kate, Nick, and of course the best spotter on either side of the Wallace Line, Diane. So much for poor visibility during the 'rainy' season. Although it's been raining hard the last couple of days, Sandy Bottom was crystal clear. According to the tide chart preditor, our dive occurred right in the middle of a tide change, low to high, yet there was very little current. The only strange phenomenon experienced was a rapid acceleration of time. Enjoy the photos.

Another beautiful orange frogfish. 18mm.

Anybody got ham?


Juvenille Pleurobranchus preoni.

Juvenille Pleurobranchus forskalii.

Philinopsis cyanea. The largest subject photographed last night, measuring in at an enormous 6cm.

Juvenille Filefish? Check out the spike on his head. 5mm.

Sole lips

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wednesday Night Dive

Wednesday Night at the Sand Box. Damn!
More posts to come tomorrow.

Benthic Ctenophones

While looking for an allied cowery on this soft coral, Dendronephthya, we spotted these translucent benthic ctenophores (3mm - 1cm). Perhaps 20% of coral surface was covered with these animals.

See my letter to the Sea Slug Forum regarding these and other benthic ctenophores.

This is one of the larger animals. If I use my imagination, I can almost see a smaller animal in the upper right corner, either on top of or covered by the larger.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Timor-Leste Land of Discovery

Dan Groshong has an exciting update about his new book.
He writes...

More elusive than a Dugong and tougher than an Iraqi insurgency, The Timor-Leste Land of Discovery book has finally gone to press!

After more than two years of photography, 700 rolls of film, 15,000 digital photos, 185 underwater dives, 10 months of design and layout, text from two presidents and two Noble Peace Prize winners, 11,300 kilos of paper printing some 1,056,000 book pages, at 10am on the 23rd of December 2005, this exciting moment is finally upon us.

Printed on a brand new state of the art $10 million HK dollar printer and hard bound with a delicate woven cotton (makes a nice pillow), Timor-Leste Land of Discovery promises to be a beautiful 192 page book coffee table book.

Books will be available in January. Please visit Dan's web site at for more info or to order copies.

Photos from Monday Night

Sandy Bottom is the best dive site in the universe!

Here are 15 photos to prove it.

Colorful Shrimp

Series of 6 Octopus Photos

1. I interrupted this tiny octopus as he cracked open a clam shell for dinner. The next series of photos show him carrying the shell off and finally settling down to eat.

Octo 2

Octo 3

The octopus picked up the shell to find a better place to eat, away from my bright lights.

Octo 4

Just to provide some scale to the octopus. As I was chasing him with my camera, he just happened to pass by this snail (notice the internal shell of the snail) which was about 3cm long. Also, notice the octopus is still carrying the clam shell.

Octo 5

Octo 6

I took the color change as an expression of happiness as he finally ate the clam.

Monsters Inc.

Creepy bug-like thing (technical term). I'm certain that the slithering evil monster that wanted to suck the screams out of children from the movie Monsters Inc. was fashioned after this critter.

Crab with Yellow Eggs

This sea pen crab with it's fans stretched out to catch microscopic particles floating in the water, is carrying eggs. Notice the yellow clutch held under the abdomen.

Smooth Flutemouth

Friend for Dinner

In the Christmas spirit, this crab chose to have a friend for dinner.


This was the smallest find of the night, measuring in at 3mm. It's either a nudibranch or flatworm of some type.

Spotted Frogfish. 8mm.

Red Octopus

Near the end of the dive, in 4M of water, we encountered this beautiful red octopus with super elongated arms and body.

Long Red Octopus

Long (20cm) Red Octopus

Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday Night at Sandy Bottom

WOW! Thanks to Nick and Diane for finding all kinds of cool creatures on tonight's Sandy Bottom dive. I have alot to post but am totally wiped out from the day's diving. I've got about 12 shots that I want to post in the next day or so, so stay tuned.

Sole Measurement

I splurged today and bought three new rulers from Leader Supermarket. And we put them to good use on this evening's dive at Sandy Bottom. This Sole measured in at 13mm.

Sole for Nick

Close-up of the Sole. This shot's for you, Nick.

Monday Day Dive

The following three shots are from our day-dive, also at Sandy Bottom.


I think this Dragonet is Neosynchiropus ocellatus, but am not certain of the species name.


Red Snapping Crab

While looking in on some anemone fish eggs today, I heard a very loud cracking noise. At first I thought it was an anemone fish hitting my camera housing, warning me away from his eggs (the male guards and nurtures the eggs). But upon further investigation, I found this Red Snapping Crab, Alpheus bisincisus, living under the anemone. Notice the asymmetrical claws which are typical of this genus of crab.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Diving

We celebrated Christmas with a relaxing dive off the beach behind Cristo Rei this afternoon. The water was crystal clear, no current, and lots of great stuff!

Whiskered Pipefish

I know you can't see it...that's the point. This Whiskered Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus, is the master of camouflage. Apparently, this species is not uncommon, but it is difficult to spot and tricky to photograph. There aren't many examples available on the web either, but here's one of the better shots.

Whiskered Pipefish

Halicampus macrorhynchus The species name, macrorhynchus, translates to long-nose. Macro, from the Greek "makros" meaning large or long, and rhynchus, meaning nose.

Pontonides unciger

As reported earlier this month, this species of whip coral partner shrimp, Pontonides unciger, lives exclusively on black corals of the genus Cirripathes and is usually found in pairs. They are quite small, under 1cm, and the best way to find them is to first identify their habitat. Be patient and have your magnifying glass handy.

Pontonides unciger

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Carnivorous Nudibranch

Shot this series of photos last weekend of a carnivorous nudibranch on the hunt and eating a gastropod. The gastropod was nearly the same size as the nudibranch, about 3cm. I'll update the post with the species name of the nudibranch after a bit of research.


That's the gastropod in the upper left corner.







Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Diver

Thanks to Diane, Kate, Lendell, Marcella, and Robin for another great dive at Sandy Bottom. This place just keeps getting better all the time.

The find-de-jour was an Ornate Ghost Pipefish that Lendell found at about 14M. Of the two other Ornate Pipefish I have photographed in Timor (see photo from November), both seemed to have claimed a territory, and were found in the same locations on our return visits. Although it's possible today's Ornate Pipefish had simply wondered away from a nearby crinoid or some other small coral, it appeared to be drifting along in the current, possibly looking for that perfect place to call home.

Crinoid Shrimp

Crinoid shrimp, closely related to the squat lobster.

Eyeball of a Napoleon Snake Eel


Anemone Fish Eggs

This is a cluster of eggs being tended to by an Anemonefish. A cluster is typically 300-700 eggs, which are laid and incubate near the anemone. They are then guarded by the male, who waves his fins to ventilate the eggs and “mouths” to transfer antibiotic substances to protect them against predation.

This is the really cool part. During incubation, chemicals from the anemone may penetrate the egg case and imprint the embryonic fish to the particular species of anemone.

Depending on species of anemonefish, eggs hatch in 4-7 days, usually at night. They will then become "planktonic", transported by the current, and find another anemone on which to settle.

Close up

I hope to go back in the next day or so and photograph them again. Looks to me like they are almost ready to hatch.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Perhaps the coolest find of the day was spotted by Lendell. Sorry I didn't get a better photo but this guy is impossible to focus on.

Stone Fish

Just when I was saying a few weeks ago that I had only seen two Stonefish in two years I found another one. He's definitely a juvenille at just 1.5cm.

Black Frogfish

Black frogfish with a white lure on top of his head. This individual is just over 5mm and was found at only 4.5M