One of the cutest fish ever – a juvenile in the genus Naso (surgeonfish family)
Ned went diving last month in Palau, a destination we had long wanted to visit. I had to change plans at the last minute and stay home with my parents so I missed out on the trip but we are counting Ned’s visit as a recon for a future visit when we can both go. This week on Blenny Watcher we share some of my favorite images from his visit. They range from a speck of an algae shrimp to… a shark! Yes, here on Blennywatcher, a shark photo by Ned DeLoach, but don’t get too excited – he took it with his 60 mm macro lens.
Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) making a close pass
Always on the watch for behavior: Bluestriped Cleaner Wrasse clean a Barramundi
A pelagic ctenophore, captured during an open water night drift dive
A half-inch Cave Pygmygoby (Trimma taylori)
And Palau has itty bitty stuff too, like this algae shrimp – the size of a flax seed.
Arrowhead Soapfish (Belonoperca chabanaudi)
OK, for the record, a shark picture taken by Ned (but he used his 60mm macro lens)
Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) laying yellow eggs
Cephea cephea, Crown Jellyfish, in open water
The unintended artistry of natural selection.
It seems that every one of Anna’s and my favorite photos comes with a story attached. Our encounter with a night-prowling lobster is one of my favorites. It took place a few years back in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia where we were spending most of our time diving after dark searching for new crabs and other critters to include in Reef Creature Identification—Tropical Pacific.
Our guide, Liberty Tukunang, and I slipped away from Anna and her bug-buzzing video lights to explore the sand that extended from the reef where our boat—a long, low, green and yellow water taxi made of wood—bobbed 20 feet above. We hadn’t gone far before Anna’s beam waved us back. Returning, we found her staring down a lobster the size of Manhattan that happened to be a species we had been hunting for a long time – Panulirus ornatus, the Ornate Spiny Lobster. Our sudden arrival sent the lobster racing off into the night with Liberty and me on its tail.
But the beast was a thoroughbred. As hard as I kicked I couldn’t keep up with six jointed legs, built for the terrain. Just as I thought all was lost, Liberty, with a burst of speed, drew even and plunged his stainless steel stick into the sand. The lobster was stopped in its tracks. My momentum carried me around and, for a few brief seconds, face-to-face with a face epitomizing the unintended artistry of natural selection.
A lovely blenny awaiting a name (Malacoctenus n sp. by Dr. Peter Wirtz)
Place the winning bid and the right to name this lovely blenny is yours. We are talking about the one-of-a-kind Latinized scientific name; the one by which this fish shall officially be known. Discovered in the Cape Verde Islands and identified as an undescribed species by Dr. Peter Wirtz, the blenny belongs to the genus Malacoctenus, of which only one species was known to live in the Eastern Atlantic. Dr. Wirtz is preparing the formal scientific description but must obtain another specimen to complete the documentation. He is hoping to raise the funding necessary to complete his work by auctioning off the right to name the fish. The auction proceeds will fund the additional travel to the Cape Verde Islands, the field work to obtain another specimen, preparation of the description and its publication.
Funding for science, especially taxonomy, has been increasingly difficult to obtain and auctioning off species names has a number of precedents. For example, in 2007, to raise funding for its Coral Triangle Initiative, Conservation International held a grand event in Monaco to auction naming rights to a number of fishes discovered in Indonesia (see Washington Post article, “New Species Owe Names to Highest Bidder”). German non-profit Biopat offers an online catalog of species awaiting patrons willing to donate funding in return for naming rights (those proceeds are directed to the educational institutions of the discoverers and to field work).
How to name your fish? Dr. Wirtz explains: “You could name the blenny after yourself or after a loved one. When a species is named after a person, the name is given a Latin ending. The ending depends on the gender of the person being honored. For males, the ending is formed by adding the letter “I” and for females by adding the letters “ae.” So if the winning bidder is called John Smith and wants the species named after him, it could be called Malacoctenus johnsmithi.”
The minimum bid is 5,000 US$. If interested in bidding to name the species, contact Dr. Peter Wirtz directly by email via firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr Wirtz is one of the world’s experts on blennies and has been a helpful resource for our marine life questions. For more information about his books, publications and to view his collection of images, visit his web page at www.medslugs.de/E/Photographers/Peter_Wirtz.htm. The auction ends on December 31, 2013. This could make a wonderful gift for a loved one and at the same time help further science.
Not much chance for this sea pen to escape (video frame)
A few months ago I posted about Carry Crabs, little crabs of the family Dorippidae that have modified back legs that they use to grip things, living or inanimate, to disguise themselves. Carry Crabs don’t appear to be fussy – one of the [...]