Shelter from the Storm

Date September 16, 2013

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When it looks like this underwater, it can be hard to tell…
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… that there is a Tropical Storm passing by overhead!
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The weather didn’t dampen any of our desires to jump back into the reef for a second dive. In fact, it helped prod us along as the weather was much calmer underwater, warmer, and there were no raindrop projectiles firing into our faces. How pleasant! Here’s Chay Hoon ready for our second descent! She surely was stoked because today is her first dive in close to three months, so she was eager to get on with the nudi hunt!
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Nothing is quite what it seems on the reef. Here’s a False scorpionfish blending in with the coral rubble.
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What looks like soft coral…
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… is in fact an anemone!
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What looks like seaweed and algae…
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… is really a tiny, little cuttlefish!
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What may seem like a little coral polyp…
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… is a tiny Phyllidia nudibranch. Check out it’s little rhinophores on the left end of it’s body!
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Some creatures prefer not to rely too much on camouflage, and prefer to try their best to avoid contact with predators all together. Living in a crinoid that likes to hide in a crevice, seems like the safest way to go for this crinoid crab.
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Perhaps making a home within a crinoid that lives within a crevice is such a good device to evade detection, that it may be all right to let all your colours show, like these snapping shrimp, which like the crab, stay close to a host crinoid. The shrimp on the right appears to be gravid. The snapping pincer on the shrimp on the left is clearly visible.
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I took a closer look at the photos of these shrimp when I got back and noticed heaps of copepods on the male shrimp!
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If you trust your chemical defenses, feel free to be cocky and flaunt it! Just like this Hypselodoris bullocki nudibranch that busies itself feeding on a hydroid while almost advertising its presence.
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A Blue swimmer crab is a tasty meal for many creatures above and below the water. Its tactics are to be supremely skittish and easily agitated. It doesn’t take much to annoy a Blue swimmer crab. Sucks to be tasty.
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Sticking close to Chay hoon pays off: She points out this tiny little Aeolid nudibranch on a hydriod.
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Here’s a closer look at the beauty! You can see its rhinophores and oral tentacles!
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Here’s another insanely tiny nudibranch that Chay Hoon pointed out.
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I came across these little critters scuttling about on the tentacles of a crinoid. I wonder what they are. Some kind of flatworm maybe?
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I never realised how cute these Chromodoris look like from behind.
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See how they can hide their gills! Left photo: gills in. Right photo: gills out.
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A pair of Phyllidiella rudmanii feeding on a sponge.
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A close up look of the gorgeous details on an Icon seastar.
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A colony of sea squirts on a hydroid.
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An Occelated phyllidia trudges through the sea bed.
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A tiny flatworm feeds upon some orange-dotted sea squirts.
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We tried searching many of the soft coral colonies, but no luck finding any cowries in their midst.
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There were also some small hints that not all the coral colonies have recovered from the bleaching from a few months back.
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To part, here is a fleeting photo of one of the hundred of damsels we saw on the reef yesterday. This one had made a little home in one of the silt traps (background) laid out on the reef by researchers.

To see more photos from this dive, visit the Hantu Blog Gallery.

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