Back to Tulamben: The Small Ones

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I have a very soft spot for the little creatures and DC was constantly waiting about for me to finish lying in wait for one small creature or another to emerge or stay still enough to photograph, such as this hawkfish.

IMG_2973

I was very happy to see quite a few hawkfish there, like this pixy hawkfish with the tasseled dorsal fins.

IMG_3059

Then there were the ornate ghost pipefish. It’s normally quite a rare fish to spot, but we saw plenty here. This one is fairly young, as can be seen from its wispy tail.

IMG_2923

Then we got some nice young adult specimens like this.

IMG_2698

And finally some of the older, darker coloured ones that looked less delicate than the younger fellas.

IMG_2802

We also found some of its close cousins, the robust ghost pipefish. They were well camouflaged, looking like brown leaves floating just above the sandy bottom.

IMG_2964

Another of my favourites is the pink anemonefish. Here, one shyly looks up as another dodges away from the camera.

IMG_2746

I don’t know how rare these spine-cheek anemonefish are, but I was delighted to find them as I’d never seen them outside of the fish books before.

IMG_2981

Check out the weird spine jutting out from its cheek!

IMG_2982

Other anemonefish had eggs! This is really rare anywhere else, but every trip to Tulamben I’ve seen fish eggs. Have I told you yet how much I love diving at Tulamben?

IMG_2931

It was really sweet to see how the parent tended the eggs so carefully.

IMG_2933

There were other fish with eggs too, like this sergeant major fish. I think it was really cool how the eggs are purple.

IMG_2992

This fish had laid its eggs on the walls of the wreck, and we ascended to an entire expanse of sergeant majors guarding their own eggs. A wonderful sight.

IMG_3000

Then there were the juvenile fish, like this baby emperor angelfish.

IMG_2858

I like how striking it is, looking like a kid got a white marker and drew circles on the fish.

IMG_3078

Other juvenile fish were less pristine, like this bannerfish that made it out of a bigger fish’s jaws just in the nick of time. Poor guy.

IMG_2886

Of course other juveniles do much better, like this batfish, looking much more elongated than its adult self.

IMG_3010

There were other fish that remained small even as they reached adulthood. One of them is a superstar of the diving world – the pygmy seahorse.

IMG_2799

It was almost impossible to get good shots of this shy creature half the size of a fingernail, especially when it turned its back to the camera and resolutely looked away.

IMG_2801

Still, no trip to Tulamben would be complete without a couple of pictures of these, imperfect or not.

IMG_2840

Advertisement

Diving the Similans: Small Fish

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I’m not very lucky with big fish. Whenever we’re out for a dive to see something like a special sort of shark or bumphead parrotfish or whatever, I rarely get the first glimpse. Also, my group is invariably the one that doesn’t see anything while other people spend ages looking at it. Case in point was that my group was the only one throughout the whole 4-day trip that didn’t see a single leopard shark, not even at the dive site named after them.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t see as many big fish or perhaps just out of sheer perversity, I like taking pictures of small fish. Each trip, I take one of the prerequisite photos of clownfish. These here playing in the anemone are called false clown anemonefish. It’s funny how they look so cute frolicking among the anemone tendrils yet have such grumpy expressions up close.

DSCF7424a

Next is a series of my favourite little fish: the hawkfish family. These are infernally difficult to get good pictures of because they’re very shy. The pixy hawkfish is one of the shyer ones. Even though they’re rather common, most of the time I see them peeking out from a coral crevice. Either that, or the dart of a tail into shelter. I like the way it cocks its head very slightly to one side as if posing for a picture.

IMG_0064a

Much less frequently, I spot the freckled hawkfish. It’s funny how it comes in two variations. I like the one with bright orange-red and white streaks better.

IMG_0072a

The duller version somehow looks a million times grumpier. It still has freckles on its chin, just not the cute bright red ones of its prettier variation.

IMG_0126a

The trick to small fish is merely patience, not luck. Once I spot one, I normally lie in wait for it to emerge and get used to me. Most small fish like either pause for a while to rest on a bit of coral, or stay in their own territory. It’s not terribly hard to get in a few shots in good light for fairly decent photos. Plus, good pictures compensate loads for bad luck with big fish.