<ul><li>Underwater photos from Indonesia </li></ul><ul><li>Please note that none of the following pictures were taken by me. I do not own an underwater camera, let alone one suitable enough to take such high-quality images. Instead, I have perused the Web for suitable photographs of some of the creature species which I did see on my dives. </li></ul>Rick Goodman, 2007
Anemonefish (many different types in Indonesia)
Pygmy seahorses (3) Reaching only ~10-15mm in height as adults, and perfectly camouflaged with the gorgonians they inhabit, these guys are incredibly difficult to find. To make matters even more difficult, they tend to hang out at relatively deep depths, and shy away from photographers’ lights. I was ecstatic to find several perched together at 105 feet, on my last dive coming back from Komodo (same coloration as above individuals).
Pygmy seahorses come in a few color variations, depending on their local habitat. Note that the picture on the right contains two individuals…!
This shot is a bit blurry (taken from a moving video), but gives a small indication of the challenges finding these guys. At 100’ depth, many colors are not visible without powered lighting, making the pygmy’s camouflage all the more effective. The guy circled above is noticeable mainly because he’s in the act of swimming between branches! ~10mm
The stone beach of Tulamben – home to Bali’s most famous diving, all accessible from shore. The huge USAT Liberty wreck is just offshore, and completely covered in coral and marine life; nearby there is also a small reef wall and coral garden. Between them, the volcanic sand bottom is a great place to find small marine critters like nudibranchs.
At Tulamben, local porters transport divers’ tanks from the staging area to the dive sites. The porters, typically middle-aged women weighing perhaps in the ~100-110lb range, carry the tanks on their head while walking barefoot on the wobbly stone beach. Some even carry two at once (as above) – I’ve even seen photos of women carrying three tanks simultaneously (two on head, one on shoulder). Amazing to witness.
At the USAT Liberty Wreck off Tulamben Among the fish pictured, a regal angelfish and titan triggerfish are visible in foreground
Ornate ghost pipefish Another elaborately colored yet amazingly well-camouflaged fish, they tend to hang vertically, in proximity to assorted vegetation and coral with which they blend in quite well. Next few slides show off some of their color variations.
Painted frogfish Frogfish are odd-looking fish that come in a wide variety of colorations amongst several distinct species, and adults range in size from ~2” to a bit over 12”. One of their noteworthy traits is that on the infrequent occasions when they do move, they tend to “walk” on their unusual hand-like frontal fins.
One of my favorite fish species, I was treated to two frogfish sightings on this trip – having wanted to see one for over 10 years! One was large (12”) and completely pitch black, while the second was a little 2” guy, white with grey spots, complete with a small frontal lure he waved about trying to attract prey in front of him.
Frogfish are masters of camouflage, and highly effective predators. While the individuals pictured on these slides are fairly garishly colored, they span the gamut of colors and textures, blending in perfectly with the incredible array of colors and shapes found on the reef around them. Sitting motionless on a coral or sponge, they wait patiently for small fish to swim past, at which point they open their gaping mouths in a flash, creating a vacuum which sucks prey into their mouths in an astounding six microseconds ! This makes the frogfish one of the fastest feeding vertebrates known.
Peacock (smashing) mantis shrimp These are some of the most strikingly colored creatures in the ocean (pictures do not do it justice). But beware -- their clubbed fore claws (red and orange) are ‘spring loaded’ and able to project forward with such force as to smash thick glass. Achieving speeds of 23m/s and acceleration of 8000g, this is one of the fastest motions in the animal kingdom. Indicatively, they are also known as “thumb splitters” by fishermen...
Mantis shrimp also have possibly the most sophisticated eyes in the animal world, with some species having more than 10 pigments sensitive to different wavelengths of light, compared to only three pigments in humans.
Blue-spotted stingray Lots of these beautiful rays are visible throughout Indonesia. Frequently they are buried just below the surface of the sandy bottom, sometimes just their barb-equipped tail sticking out like a blade of seagrass.
Giant Pacific manta rays One of the most prized sightings for a diver, mantas seem to glide through the water with near-effortless grace. On one of our non-working dives in Komodo, we were fortunate to come upon a manta feeding area, & were treated to a close encounter with about a dozen mantas, with wingspans up to ~15 feet. Up to six were visible simultaneously, some coming in very close proximity to us.
One of my colleagues filmed some of our fantastic dive encounter with the mantas. I have placed four minutes of video footage for viewing here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=n2VXoL6eDo4
Gentle giants, manta rays feed on plankton, which they funnel through their open mouths (which are forward-facing, unlike those of all other rays, which are underneath their bodies) while swimming along. Their distinctive frontal lobes help this funneling action, and can be curled up to reduce drag when not feeding.
Mantas belong to a group of marine animals known as “pelagics” – creatures that generally spend most of their time out in the open ocean, rather than closer to shore, and are not dependent on the ocean bottom.