Monday, March 21, 2005

Walking critters

Twice I found a big mean looking stonefish basically fully in the open, which is rather unusual as they prefer to dig themselves in the sand or hide themselves among coral outcrops they try very hard to simulate.

In front of the water bungalows jetty an artificial reef consisting of wooden structures and hollow concrete blocks is a good place to look for frogfish, several of which have made it their home as it attracts a lot of small fish seeking refuge. There're at least three rusty red frogfish pretending to be harmless sponges. Mika, a Japanese dive master, also found a yellow clown frogfish for us. The cutest little (10cm) thing I've ever seen. It kept trying to walk away from us using its fin-feet, in the most comical cartoonlike way. The next day we witnessed a bigger black frogfish doing the same slow-motion wobbly moon-walk down a sandy slope. While slowly gulping in water as if out of breath. What a wonderful world!

Also around Mabul, two small flamboyant cuttlefish were crawling over the sand, maybe in order not to be blown away by the current, after in vain having tried to get away from us big madly flashing monsters. The comparatively big reef cuttlefish also shows up now and then.

Lisa, a Philippina dive master and probably the best spotter of the dive resort, dug up a devil scorpion fish out of the sand (using her handy pointing stick). After which it crawled around on its claw-like fins, seeking a more peaceful place.

On several occasion we saw leaf fish, some yellow, some black. They're another "I'm not there" kind of pretender found in various locations.

Crocodilefish, big and small, can be seen on most dives around Mabul, usually on sandy bottoms, but I also got to shoot a picture of one perched on top of a coral boulder.

Besides the above mentioned critters, we also saw nudibranchs, ribbon eels, snake eels, moray eels, mantis shrimp, cleaner shrimps, colony shrimps, anemone crabs, octopus, lobster, cowry shell, etc. And, though I didn't see them, there are mandarin fish both around Mabul & Kapalai.

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