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

September in Bali: Underwater Macro

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Bali as a dive destination really surprised me with the sheer variety and quantity of wildlife to be seen. The rich coral life supported many species that were rare at other more famous dive areas in the region. I could choose no better place than Tulamben to start taking underwater photos. There were lots of  Nemos to shoot, though some were shyer than others, like these false anemonefish or clownfish.

DSCF0043

The pink anemonefish flashed a bright pink against the brilliant green of their protective homes. Even so, they sulked at the camera rather disagreeably.

DSCF0663

It was this panda clownfish that finally posed nicely for me while guarding his pink eggs at the base of the anemone.

DSCF0250

Next up, the challenge was to spot and shoot the pygmy seahorses. My task was made far easier with the world’s best dive guide ever, Wayan. It was amazing how he could spot the little creatures so easily and point them out carefully. Here, you can see how tiny a pygmy seahorses is.

DSCF0019

Here’s the Denise pygmy seahorse up close, looking so elegant and fragile.

DSCF0285

Less delicate looking was the regular Gorgonian pygmy seahorse, though this male is very obviously pregnant. For seahorses, the males carry the eggs while the females swim free. What a great arrangement.

DSCF0526

Other rare fish included this longnose hawkfish, a very pretty fish that started my subsequent fascination with hawkfishes of all shapes and sizes.

DSCF0287

Then there was the jawfish that burrowed in the sea bottom, only revealing its face and yellow eyebrows to the surface.

DSCF0294

And there was the funny-looking ribbon eel that showed off its striped blue body and brilliant yellow mouth, looking like it had a tragicomic accident with a fluorescent yellow marker pen.

DSCF0357

Another interesting find was the robust ghost pipefish that looked remarkably like leaves gliding along in the current.

DSCF0301

Here’s a video with a pregnant one, you can just about spot its eggs in between its ventral fin parts right at the end of the video.

There were also other creatures like this pretty little cuttlefish so well camouflaged against some stinging coral.

DSCF0730

And then there were the pretty nudibranchs, also unglamourously known as sea slugs. There were pink ones with yellow trimmings…

DSCF0319

… black and white ones with orange trimmings…

DSCF0280

… purely blue ones…

DSCF0458

… and even pairs with pinkish brown splotches on them. I bet these fellas must be poisonous, otherwise they’d be way too easy to be spotted and gobbled up!

DSCF0689

Trung Nguyen Coffee

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I was delighted to find out the Trung Nguyen Coffee got to our shores, and even more delighted that DC found it too and loves it. In fact, he loves it so much they recognise him already. I think one week he went there for a cuppa almost every day.

Trung Nguyen is the Viet equivalent of Starbucks, only infinitely superior to the coffee-flavoured milk Starbucks serves. Here they do things the traditional Viet way using flimsy little drip coffee contraptions. Choose which number brew you like (each is blended differently) and wait for the hot water to percolate through the metal filter. I like Blend No. 5. It’s deeply aromatic and very robust with little acidity. It’s the equivalent of a boot up the bum gulped black, but what a fragrant boot up the bum! Drunk with a good dose of condensed milk, it’s a better version of the coffeeshop kopi: very sweet, very smooth and very strong. I think this is the best coffee in Singapore. Do yourself a favour and forget the other coffee places. This is it.

DSCF6870

Trung Nguyen Coffee
Liang Court
177 River Valley Road #02-34
Tel: 6837 3314