Friday, February 23, 2007

Squid Squid and more Squid

Marble Shrimp

There must be a hundred species and a thousand color variations of Marble Shrimp and I have no idea how to distinguish them. Here are two.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Flower Ghost Shrimp

It was a rough day for this Flower Ghost Shrimp (Callianassa petalura). Although not uncommon, they rarely leave their burrows. Maybe this guy should have stayed inside today.

Click on the photos to see them in larger format.

Shrimp with a clutch of eggs.

The Shrimp was attacked by this Sandperch and assumed the fetal position, spilling its eggs.

Unfortunately, as it was flailing to find safety, the Shrimp landed in the middle of a tube anemone.

The Shrimp either escaped or was spit out by the anemone, but the Sandperch was waiting and went straight for the remaining eggs.

And finally, the Shrimp with no eggs left, looking somewhat defeated...but still alive.

Flabellina bicolor

Zebra Leopard Sole

I'm not sure what the real name of this species is; there are over 100 species. All soles have eyes on the right side of their body, so the nearer side of the first photo is actually the dorsal fin. Soles tend to be bolder in color than their flounder cousins - who change color to blend into their environment - but secrete a bitter, toxic substance from their dorsal and anal fins to deter predators.

Weedy Scorpionfish

This Weedy Scorpionfish has been a resident of Tasi Tolu for about a month now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dragon Shrimp at Tasi Tolu

Two great finds today at Tasi Tolu. Firstly, Greg found these amazing Dragon Shrimp (15mm). The authors of Underwater Malaysia say that this species is "extremely uncommon, exceptionally strange and outrageously beautiful". The round thing in the upper left hand corner of the first photo is the eye of a puffer fish that was hiding out nearby.

Harlequin Shrimp at Tasi Tolu

Lendell found the other great find of the day, this Harlequin Shrimp. We just saw our first Harlequins last week at Tulamben, and now we've found them, or at least one, in Timor! This solitary individual was half the size of those we saw in Bali, perhaps 25mm and was carrying an equally small starfish around. Looks like food for a month!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another Pygmy

We encountered three fans in Tulamben with Pygmy Seahorses. This sole individual was on a Gorgonian at 15 meters on the USS Liberty wreck.

Frogfish from Tulamben

Harlequin Shrimp

We saw two pair of Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans) while in Tulamben, just off the shore of Scuba Seraya. They are remarkable unphased by the presence of divers and incredibly easy to photograph. Here's what my crustaceans book has to say about Harlequin Shrimp:

Wild pairs appear to be territorial, sometimes remaining in the area for months or years. The pairs are kept together by the females' pheromones and the shrimp's large chelipeds are used in communicative displays. Breeding pairs are known to perform a courtship dance prior to mating. Females are larger than mailes, and differ slightly in the second colour patch on the side of the abdomen.

The larger and colored female is on the right.

Harlequins eat starfish and this individual is carrying around a chunk of starfish, which is trying desparately to cling to the coral.

Male Harlequin on a bright red sponge.

Unidentified Nudibranch from Tulamben

Diane found this speck of a nudibranch (3-4mm) off Scuba Seraya. The dive instructor there said he hadn't seen it before and we have yet to find it in a reference book. Could be a juvenile. We will send it to the Sea Slug Forum for possible identification.

Bumblebee Shrimp

These Bumblebee Shrimp (Phyllognathia ceratophthalmus) require a lot of patience and a fair bit of luck. They are incredibly shy and will slip into a crevice at the slightest provocation. The good news is that they are in relatively shallow water (about 4 meters at Tulamben) and a diver can spend hours combing the rocks and coral for a glimpse.

Whiskered Pipefish

While Whiskered Pipefish might be common in Malaysian Borneo, we haven't seen many here in Timor. They are masters of camouflage, and like most things camouflaged, not exceedly gregarious in front of the camera.