Photos - Critters Part 1
Pygmy Seahorse's home is the Gorgonian sea fan. Pygmy Seahorse is a tiny creature, only about 1-2cm. They are also known as Miniature seahorse and Bargibant's seahorse.
Pygmy seahorse has evolved to resemble its host, the Gorgonian sea fan. The camouflage and small size of these critters make them difficult for scuba divers to spot.
Seahorses and pipefish are unique in that it is the male that gives birth. The male incubates the eggs in its pouch, where the female deposits them after fertilization.
Pygmy Seahorse on Gorgonian Fan
Pygmy seahorse hanging to the sea fan with its tail. You need to know where to look to see one. Seahorses are poor swimmers and like to attach themselves to something with their tails.
Frogfishes are anglerfishes that rely on their camouflage to protect them from predators and lure prey, which also makes them hard to tell from the background for scuba divers. Frogfishes lie still on the bottom waiting for prey and then strike extremely rapidly.
Frogfish come in various colors making it difficult to differentiate between different species. Some resemble stones or coral, while others imitate sponges or sea squirts.
Seahorses can be found singly or in couples on sandy bottoms with corals and sponges or in algae covered reef zones.
There are 54 known species of seahorses. Seahorses have a segmented bony armour. Instead of scales, they have a thin skin stretched over a series of bony plates.
Seahorses are now a threatened species. They are sought after for Chinese medicine. About 20 million seahorses are captured a year. Seahorses are also eaten as snack in parts of South East Asia.
Seahorses feed on tiny invertebrates which they suck whole into their mouths. They feed either on the bottom or capture swimming prey.
Pipefish looks like a straight bodied seahorse.
Pipefish has a snake like body and divers sometimes confuse them with sea snakes. Like its relative, the seahorse, the male gives birth.
Ghost Pipefish is also known as False pipefish. It is related to Pipefishes and Seahorses, but unlike the two, Ghost pipefishes do things correctly: females give birth.
Ghost Pipefish come in variety of colours depending on their environment.
Green version of Ghost pipefish. Click the image to see the whole fish.
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
Ornate ghost pipefish a.k.a. Harlequin ghost pipefish is one of the weirdest looking fish species. They swim or float head down searching crustaceans on the bottom.
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
Ornate Ghost Pipefish are found in pairs or small family groups.
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
The colors of ornate ghost pipefish vary according to its surroundings. Here's a red variation.
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
Ornate ghost pipefish are well camouflaged. You should see two in this picture.
Nudibranchs are favourite targets for macro photography among scuba divers due to their brilliant colours. There are well over 2000 species recorded. This one is Varicose Phyllidia - Sky blue phyllidia - for those keeping track.
Nudibranchs, commonly - albeit slightly inaccurately - referred to as sea slugs, are mollusks without the hard shell. The name literally means "naked gill".
Nudibranch - Bus Stop Chromodoris
The nudibranch in this picture appears to be Lumpy chromodoris (Chromodoris hintuanensis), Bus stop chromodoris, named after a "stopping place" in Tagalog apparently for the lack of a better name at the time of finding the species.
Sponge crabs shape a living sponge into a portable shelter. They cut out a fragment from a sponge and trim it to its own shape using its claws. The sponge grows along with the crab providing a consistent shelter.
Sponge crab keeps the sponge in its place by holding it with two pairs of legs.
Wobbegong is a small shark species. Adults are typically about 1m long. Wobbegongs are well camouflaged. It spends most of the day lying on the bottom with its tail curled and ambushes smaller fish that come too close. Wobbegong uses its tail to lure small fish.
Wobbegong gets its name from Australian Aboriginal language: "shaggy beard" describing the whisker lobes around its jaws.
Wobbegongs are generally not dangerous to divers. They have bitten people who have accidentally stepped on them in shallow water or scuba divers who poked or touched them. They have many small but sharp teeth and having bitten, they are known to hang on...
This tiny emperor shrimp is perched on a sea cucumber with which it has a symbiotic relationship. The shrimp helps to keep the host clean of parasites.
Commensal Shrimp in Flowercoral
Shrimp is a common name for a vary large group of crustaceans including thousands of species.
Shrimps vary in size from about 2cm up to 25cm and live with a variety of hosts: corals, anemones, sea cucumbers, etc.
Nudibranch from Flabellina family.
Mexichromis multituberculata (Multi-Pustuled Mexichromis)
Flatworm on a seastar. The worm in the photo is Pseudoceros bimarginatus. We know you were just dying to know.
Nudibranch - Hypselodoris maculosa
Spotted Hypselodoris - Hypselodoris maculosa.
Larger shrimp are more likely to be targeted commercially, and are often referred to as prawns.
A small shrimp on a Gorgonian sea fan branch.
Nudibranch - Glossodoris cincta
Nudibranchs move slowly either by muscular contraction or by millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of a fleshy 'foot'. They can swim, though.
Glossodoris cincta. Many nudibranchs are brilliantly colored while others are more modest to match their background thereby providing camouflage.
Insert your own Cockatoo joke here... Cockatoo Waspfish belongs to the scorpionfish family. They are nocturnal. The fish feeds on small shrimp and other tiny crustaceans that pass near its mouth.
Waspfish allows itself to drift in the water and pretends to be a dead leaf or a drifting piece of seaweed to ambush prey.
Soft coral Goby
The soft coral goby has semi-transparent head and body, with white scales running along its vertebra. Their coloration is noted to match the color of the coral they inhabit.
Spiny lobsters can be distinguished from true lobsters by their very long, thick, spiny antennae.
Flatworms and nudibranchs are often difficult to tell apart. They both can be brightly colored and show very similar color patterns. Red-tipped flatworm - Pseudoceros bifurcus.
See hares get their name from the two rhinophores that project upwards from their heads and somewhat resemble the ears of a hare.
Nudibranchs are carnivores. They feed on a wide variety of animals including sponges, hydroids, anemones, corals, sea pens, and sometimes other nudibranchs.
Sea snails are mollusks and are protected by the hard shell.
Coral Crab with Christmas Tree Worm
Any certified scuba diver can find hundreds of different species on one single dive at a good reef.
Zebra lionfish. Lionfishes are scorpionfishes. As with all scorpionfishes, their spines are venomous.
Octopus camouflages and sometimes covers itself with debris to hide from predators.
So far unidentified Goby lurking inside a tubeworm.
Glossodoris atromarginata (Black-Margined Glossodoris)
Yellow Boxfish and Red Snapper
A small yellow boxfish seeking shelter with a bigger Red snapper.
Boxfishes are closely related to pufferfishes and filefishes. While the adults are usually quite square in shape, the young are more rounded. Boxfishes, like pufferfishes, secrete toxic chemicals from their skin when under stress.
Mantis Shrimp in a Hole
Mantis Shrimp has elaborate eyes: while humans have three types of color receptive cones in our eyes, mantis shrimp has sixteen. They are able to see colours that are unimaginable to other species.
Scorpionfish are a family of fish. Scorpionfish can sting: they have sharp spines coated with venomous mucus.
Scorpionfish family includes somewhere between 200-400 species among them many of the world's most venomous species, stonefishes and lionfishes. Advice to scuba divers: don't touch...
Green Sea Turtle
Green sea turtle is listed as an endangered species. Only larger sharks and humans feed on adult sea turtles.
Green Sea Turtle
Green sea turtles who make it to maturity can live up to 80 years in the wild. They are among the largest green turtles in the world; many are more than a metre in length and can weigh up to 300 kilograms.
Hawksbill sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtle with a scuba diver. Sea turtles spend almost all their lives submerged, but must come to the surface to breathe air. They can stay underwater for hour when sleeping, but much less, a few minutes, when they are active.
Critters - Part 1
Photos of creatures we have encountered while scuba diving around Asia: big and small, weird and wonderful, pretty and ugly - in no particular order. We haven't managed to positively identify all creatures, so if you recognize some we have missed, please let us know.
Part 2 of our critter photo collection. More creatures we have encountered scuba diving.
Photos from a scuba trip to Moal Boal in the Philippines. Whale sharks, turtles, etc.