Muddy Bottom

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Yesterday, I had a boatload of fun seekers, but no divers except me. So I took them to my favourite spot at Pig Island.

In case you’re wondering, here is how it looks from where we were anchored on a sandy bottom:

Pig Island on a Saturday - Perfect Sky - Perfect Day

Since I was the only one diving, I decided to head out into the middle of the small bay where I know that the bottom is muddy. We seldom go down there because most people want to see a lot of colourful fish – not a bunch of muck. If fact, that’s what we call it: muck diving.

I don’t mind it when I have my camera with me, because there are a few critters down there that you seldom see anywhere else. You just have to cover more area to find them.

For example: here is a Beaded Anemone (Heteractis aurora):Beaded Anemone (Heteractis aurora) and Periclimenes shrimp

I like the lovely pale colours. This is one of the anemones that you definitely do not want to touch. It stings. If you click to enlarge, you will see a tiny Periclimenes shrimp. I’m guessing at the genus, because I can’t find this shrimp in any of my references. My books are not all that great, though. Here is an enlargement of the shrimp:

Periclimenes shrimpIf you can see only some dark and white dots with a white bar at the end, then you are looking at the shrimp. The rest of its body is entirely transparent. All that you can see are the pigmented areas. The dark splotch at the left is the tail. The long white bar at the right is the head. You can barely make out the legs.

While still on the muddy bottom, I stumbled across this Beaded Starfish (Echinaster callosus):

Beaded Starfish (Echinaster callosus)

It is certainly an odd looking starfish. I don’t know why it was twisted around so. All around, you can see tracks of burrowing snails.

As I ascended away from the mud into the sandy area there were plenty of Gobies sitting on their verandas. Here is an Eyebrow Shrimpgoby of the genus Amblyeleotris:

Eyebrow Shrimpgoby (Amblyeleotris sp.)Many Gobies have a commensal shrimp that lives in the same hole. I could tell that there was one living with this Goby because of the long ditch leading from the hidey-hole. The shrimp bulldozes the sand from the hole to keep it open, leaving a long ditch-like furrow in the sand. There will normally be a little roof of rocks on the opposite side to act as a roof to keep sand from falling in. Here you can see the ditch leading off to the left and the little roof of stones to the right of the Goby. The shrimp was hiding from me.

Back up on top of the reef, next to the trees that you see in the first image, I found this six legged Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata):

Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata)I case you are wondering if I fiddled with the colour, the answer is no. They really are that blue. There is also a greenish variation of this species, but the colour is not nearly so bright. They make me think of those strange, brightly coloured plastic toys that Japanese tourists always seem to enjoy. These normally have five legs.

Diving in mud can be fun.

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5 Responses to “Muddy Bottom”

  1. Underwater Variety Pack | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] are lots of pretty starfish. But, there are few large pretty starfish. This is one of them. Behold Choriaster […]

  2. The Last Fish | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] have never seen one in the water. I’ve been told that the colours are so fantastic that they appear unreal – as if it were some kind of incredible neon sign. Immediately upon being removed from the water, […]

  3. Glennis Korsman-D'Elboux Says:

    your photos and words and brilliant spent time in madang growing up and loved the fact you stepped of terra firma and into a garden of wonder
    every day brings new and amazing memories thru your photos and words oh yes your words r so important

  4. MadDog Says:

    Wow, Glennis. That’s a pretty powerful endorsement. Knowing that there are people out there who get so much enjoyment from my scribblings keeps me going. It’s very gratifying.

    Thanks for your kind comment.


  5. All the Colours of the Sea | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] Starfish fans will enjoy this lazy looking Linckia laevigata.This is the same species which often appears as a bright blue variation. […]