Posted by: Kaj Maney
With all the nutrition suspended in the water in Lembeh, providing such a rich source of food for so many critters, whether directly (you eat the stuff), or indirectly (you get eaten by other stuff), survival often depends on remaining unseen, and there is not that much cover to hide in here…
This was very noticeable in some of Barb’s photos from this week. As I was looking through them I was struck by the photos she had taken of one piece of Xenia Soft Coral.
Xenia Soft Coral is a fleshy soft coral, usually fairly small in size, with broccoli-like clumps about 15 to 20cm (6 to 8”) high. The are fascinating in their own right, as the polyps they extend at their extremities rapidly open and close, like little time-lapse flowers opening and closing.
Occasionally we find shrimp or crabs on them, surprisingly named Xenia Shrimp or Xenia Swimming Crabs. What I hadn’t seen before was both crustaceans on one piece of coral. You can see in these photos the smaller shrimp in a group of three (above two photos), with the larger crabs to the right. On the photo below you can see a close up of the shrimp, with it’s lovely camouflaged patterns.
Evolution is an amazing master. the patterns on the shrimp and crab are so intricate and so perfectly suited to living on it’s host.
The next camouflage crustacean I saw this week was the Mushroom Coral Shrimp. A month or so ago I posted some video of another inhabitant of Mushroom Coral, the Mushroom Coral Pipefish. The Mushroom Coral Shrimp is a little more common than the pipefish, but often overlooked, or only quickly glanced at. But is has found a very effective camouflage, mimicking, with it’s white head, the whites tips of the coral polyps.
This white head, buried amongst all the swaying polyps, is often all you can see of them. A quick look, then you are off to see the next thing the guides have found. But when you look closer you can see these are a beautiful crustacean.. as well as their white ‘popcorn’ heads, they have wonderful transparent sense organs, red bodies, clear pincers and legs with small purple dots on the joints.
As with so many of the critters in Lembeh, you have to just stop and have a close look. You don’t need a camera or video, you can see all of this with a cheap plastic magnifying glass too…so if you are coming here, don’t forget to bring one with you, so you can fully experience the amazing macro life here.
The rest of the week has been smashing too. Highlights included Barb seeing her first Brook’s Urchin Shrimp and we have an orange Giant Frogfish on the House Reef. We also saw Harlequin Shrimp, Harlequin Crabs, Boxing Crabs, Tiger Shrimp, Crinoid Shrimp, Snapping Shrimp, Orang Utan Carbs, Halimeda Carbs, Sponge crabs, Decorator Crabs, Elegant Squat Lobster, Hairy Squat Lobster, Hairy Shrimp, Painted Porcelain Crabs, Porcelain Crabs, Whip Coral Shrimp, Xeno Crabs, Skeleton Shrimp, Candy Crabs, Tozeuma Shrimp, Commensal Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Coleman Shrimp, Brook’s Urchin Shrimp and Sea Spiders. As well as our Giant Frogfish on the House Reef we also saw Hairy Frogfish, Painted Frogfish, juvenile Warty (Clown) Frogfish, Occellated (Coin-Bearing) Frogfish and Crimson Frogfish. There were more Blue Rings, Mimics, Wonderpus, Long Arm, Coconut, Shaggy, Hairy and Reef Octopus, as well as Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Pygmy Cuttlefish and Bob Tailed Squid. And we saw Denise, Pontohi and Bargabanti Pygmy Seahorses, Thorny and Estuary Seahorses, Lembeh Pygmy Seadragons, Pygmy Pipehorses, Winged Pipefish and many more. There are still Ghost Pipefish, with Ornate, Robust, Halimeda and Rough Snout all being seen this week. And some of the weirder fish include Bigeye Conger, Bamboo Shark, juvenile Fingered Dragonets, juvenile Sole, Spiny Devilfish, Randal’s Goby, Ambon Scorpionfish, Pegasus Sea Moths, Ribbon Eels, Cockatoo Waspfish, Napoleon and Blacksaddle Snake Eels, Stargazers and great Mandarinfish.
Thanks to all our great guests. Last week we had a group form the States and some guests from the UK.
Enjoy Barb’s great photos this week, just click the photo strip at the top or bottom of this blog.
Date Posted: November 28, 2011 @ 8:11 pm Comments Off