Little Fishes

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When you have many, many dives in a few places, quite frankly, you begin to get a little bored with it. Since going somewhere else to dive is expensive, I’ve learned to find interests associated with diving that enrich the experience for me.

If you’ve been reading Madang – Ples Bilong Mi, you know that underwater photography is one of my keen interests. You may have noticed that I take a lot of photos of little things.

Because, after probably 2,000 dives (I quit logging them at 1,500) within twenty minutes of my house, if I hadn’t started taking my friend Lorraine Collins’ advice to start looking for the little things, I probably would not be diving today.

Here’s a little fish on a Wire Coral (Cirripathes sp.):

A little fish on a Wire Coral

The Wire Coral is about as big around as your little finger.

Many small fish species share a domicile or have a food-sharing relationship with another organism. This is a type of symbiosis. The small fish above uses the Wire Coral for protection from predators. He hides there like a squirrel on the side of a tree.

This strange floppy thing is an Elephant Ear Sponge (Ianthella basta). It looks like a big purple scrubbing pad that you would use to clean your pots. If you click to enlarge, you can just see a small fish clinging to it:

An Elephant Ear Sponge

Here is a close up of the little fellow:

A little fish on an Elephant Ear Sponge

This fish uses the sponge in the same way as the first one – to hide from predators. You can also see the porous structure of the sponge. Sponges are filter feeders and this looks like an excellent filter to me.

This snakey little fellow is a Reeftop Pipefish (Corythoichthys haematopterus). Though they grow to about 18 cm, this one was only about half as big. There are several kinds of pipefish found locally, but this variety is seldom seen:

Reeftop Pipefish (Corythoichthys haematopterus)

Lorraine and I were trying to shove each other out of the way to get photos of the little pipefish. I finally gave up and backed off so that she could snap away.

Tricky me, I snapped a photo of her hogging in on the prize:

Lorraine snapping away

If you click to enlarge, you’ll see the little pipefish in front of her lens.

What we’re doing here is the underwater equivalent of stopping to smell the roses. Little things can mean a great deal when life seems to be losing its lustre.

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