Nudibranch Jewels of the Sea published in Photographic Society of America magazine "PSA Journal" March 2016
Diving is full of surprises, especially the Indo Pacific. New species of fish and marine life are being discovered on a regular basis in this underwater paradise. Even though divers come prepared to look for the many fish known to be in this area, finding them can sometimes be a difficult task. One of the most difficult fish to spot is the Ghost Pipe Fish. They are masters at camouflage, hiding among crinoids, plant life or mimicking sticks, sea grass, and other underwater vegetation, depending on the species. This ability to camouflage themselves in their underwater habitat, puts them on the list of creatures for whom divers search.
Ghost Pipefish are sexually dimorphic so the male and female are easily distinguishable. The male is about ½ the size of the female. During breeding season, the Ghost Pipe Fish will change their color and their shape to camouflage themselves even better.
Mandarin Fish, (Synchiropus splendidus), are found in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia. I found these colorful jewels of the sea in the Northern Sulawesi diver’s paradise of Bunaken and the Lembeh Strait. These small fish (1 to 2 inches) are strikingly beautiful with their body designs of squiggles, swirls, dots, and stripes in bright colors of orange, green, blue, and yellow. Their name comes from the resemblance to the robes of Imperial Chinese officers known as mandarin. These beautiful fish are members of the dragonete family. Mandarin fish are dimorphic, which means they can accomplish the sexual and reproductive traits of either, if they lack mates of the opposite sex. The males typically have more orange color on their faces, and larger bodies, while the females have smaller dorsal fins. Even with their distinctive markings, mandarin fish are very difficult to locate in their native habitat.
I am a nature, wildlife and underwater photographer. I love to travel and capture the story.
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