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.
I was very happy to see quite a few hawkfish there, like this pixy hawkfish with the tasseled dorsal fins.
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.
Then we got some nice young adult specimens like this.
And finally some of the older, darker coloured ones that looked less delicate than the younger fellas.
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.
Another of my favourites is the pink anemonefish. Here, one shyly looks up as another dodges away from the camera.
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.
Check out the weird spine jutting out from its cheek!
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?
It was really sweet to see how the parent tended the eggs so carefully.
There were other fish with eggs too, like this sergeant major fish. I think it was really cool how the eggs are purple.
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.
Then there were the juvenile fish, like this baby emperor angelfish.
I like how striking it is, looking like a kid got a white marker and drew circles on the fish.
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.
Of course other juveniles do much better, like this batfish, looking much more elongated than its adult self.
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.
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.
Still, no trip to Tulamben would be complete without a couple of pictures of these, imperfect or not.