My new dive centre in Ambon has been open a few weeks now. Unfortunately owning a dive centre is not the same as managing one and it's proving rather difficult to get out diving as much as i would like!
Still I did manage to dust off my housing and camera, eventually remember to bring my white balancing slate etc etc and get some stuff..so here's my first bit from Ambon.
It's been a good few dives. The highlights for me were the incredibly friendly Mandarinfish..they didn't care about my lights at all! In fact one kept swimming right at me! It was also fab to have the Giant Frogfish give me a big yawn and I was very pleased to see the unknown Tubastraea micrantha shrimp I had also seem in Lembeh (the little green/brown shrimp on the green hard coral).
It's always exciting to find a critter underwater that you haven't seen before, and even more exciting when it's "undescribed".
Ambon (Indonesia) has some fantastic critter diving and I had heard that living in Bryozoan Coral were some critters that had not been seen before. Bryozoan is a 'moss' marine animal that looks, in this case, like lace. Divers often mis-identify it as nudibranch egg ribbons, but it is in fact hard, like a hard coral.
I was very thrilled when I was looking hopefully at a piece of bryozoan and found these elusive Snapping Shrimp, the first I had ever seen. It took a while to work out how to film them, as I did not want to damage the Bryozoan. After watching the shrimp for a while, I realized that there were two (or maybe three) of them, and that they had a 'routine', where they would briefly come out of the centre of the bryozoan, through one of several 'folds', before disappearing back into the heart of the bryozoan.
Size: approx 1cm long.
I hope that divers will start to look for these in other locations. so far they are known only around Ambon.
These are tiny, about 4 to 5cm long and very very slim. I had seen some photos that our guests had taken and so was very excited to go and film one, especially as they look like a challenging subject.
Soft Coral is, as the name suggests, soft. This means that it moves around, swaying to and fro. And this means, together with their diminutive size, they are rather tricky to film. Undeterred, as always, I was lucky to find a few of them and managed to keep them in focus for long enough to capture.
They are very beautiful, and they move around, seeking cover in the coral, occasionally poking their heads out to look 'outside'. After studying the footage on a big screen when I got back, I noticed that I had managed to film a male pipefish, and half way through this clip you can see, on the side of his body, small eyes where the eggs are forming! A wonderful thing to see.
Mushroom Coral Pipefish are one of my favourite critters. As their name suggests they make their home in the polyps of Mushroom Coral. They are pretty rare and usually you find one or occasionally two in the coral.
We were therefore extremely lucky to find ten (yes 10) in one coral!! I had never seen anything like it before. Not only are they incredibly beautiful, they are also one of the most challenging critters to film and photograph. They inhabit the base of the coral, so you have to always contend with the swaying polyp tentacles which are always getting in the way of the pipefish at the bottom. And they are white. White is always so tricky to capture without over-exposing your shots and blowing out all the detail. However, as always, patience pays off, as does good buoyancy. You can see Barb taking photos and you can see how she stays off the sandy bottom. This protects the environment and has the added benefit of not kicking sand up, which will ruin your shot.
We found them on one of our new south side sites, our famous volcano site, Batu Lompa (Hard Boiled).