Little Fishies

Posted in Under the Sea on June 2nd, 2010 by MadDog
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It looked pretty scary outside this morning at about 06:00. I thought the world had caught fire for a moment. Never mind. It was just a big black cloud. It’s Wednesday here – middle of the week day. Ho-hum day. It’s too early in the week to be tired. It’s too late in the week to start any big projects. It’s not close enough to the weekend to begin to slack off. It’s just a work day. I had it in mind to be very productive today. I had nothing on my schedule to take me away from my office and I was determined to see how many of the little nagging projects that I’ve put off I could pummeled into submission before the day ended. I suppose you can imagine how that is going.

However, I did just finish my lunch while I was working on something else (I must vacuum my keyboard crumbs soon) and I’m going to celebrate the successful commencement of digestion by showing you The Big Black Cloud:

There. Isn’t that scary?

The title of this post is Little Fishies.  Here they are:

You know when I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of creating an underwater image? Well, I’ll tell you when. It’s when you look at one of my images and think to yourself, “He faked that! He took that shot through the glass of somebody’s perfectly maintained aquarium.” Yeah, when you get suspicious, I get all puffed up and start bragging about what a great photographer I am. I’m such a glory hound.

Yeah, well, anyway, here’s a very uneven Linckia multifora  starfish. It’s been leg bitten several times:

You know why I keep taking pictures of these and showing them to you until you want to scream, “Stop, STOP! Enough with the starfish amputees!” Well, I’ll tell you why. It is because they make me think of the amazing powers of regeneration which humans possess. No, we can’t regrow limbs – yet. But we can regenerate our emotional, spiritual and intellectual aspects by simple acts of will accompanied by hard work and behavioural changes. I have regenerated so many parts of me that I hardly recognise myself. Most of these chopping offs and regrowings have been prompted by the “What a jerk!” response of people with whom I interact. It’s like getting a smart slap in the face and then saying, “Oh, thanks. I needed that.”

Well that’s enough of whatever that was. I love shapes. I think that I must be a very visual person. I know that I’m no longer an olfactory person. I still can’t smell anything, but at least the phatosmia is getting less obnoxious since I started snorting Nasonex. Eunie uses it and I thought, “What the . . . ” I’ll give it a shot – really – two up each nose-hole each day. The smell of smoke is fading.

Hmmm . . . I drifted off-point there – back to shapes:

The Sea Squirt (Didemnum molle)  on the left makes me think of a buffalo (American Bison, to be exact) which has rater gruesomely had it head chopped off. The one on the right evokes vaguely uneasy gurglings in my cerebellum, but doesn’t provide any words to go with them. All I’m getting is visual blub-a-lug-a-blug. There may be something obscene there, but it’s not registering.

Come to think of it, It could  be Carl Malden’s nose, but I can’t be sure.

Mystery Stuff – Possibly a Protopalythoa  species anemone? I think so:

There is are so many things down there to see that it makes me wish that I could live to be a hundred. I think of the line of Shakespeare when Hamlet says to Horatio “There are many things in heaven and earth, Horatio, that are not dreamt of in your philosophy”. Hamlet  (Act I Sc V)*

Both of our beautiful Fishtail Palms (Caryota gigas)  are fruiting again:

This concerns me a bit, because these trees usually die when they have given their all to reproduce.

That seems like such a shame to me. I’d have been dead since 1969.

* Quoting Shakespeare is like using semicolons. All it proves is that you’ve been to college. Pffffft! College is the new high-school. I’m left for dead in the dust again!

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Growing New Legs

Posted in Under the Sea on May 8th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today we went up to Wongat Island to do The Green Dragon B-25 Mitchell bomber and The Henry Leith. The bomber went fine. I got some nice shots which I’ll be showing soon. However, when we went to do The Henry Leith, I brilliantly decided to anchor the boat at the beach so that the ladies could snorkel while Hendrick and I did the wreck. Than meant that I we had to dive off of the beach and I had to remember where the wreck was. I’ve done it many times before, but years ago.

Of course, I couldn’t find it. It’s only twenty metres down, but the water was too dirty so see more than about ten. The bottom where the wreck lies is at twenty metres, so we followed that contour in the area where I thought it was. After fifteen minutes, we gave up and came up to the shallow reef to shoot some pictures. This was my second dive on a big 80 tank. I ended up with 110 minutes. I was using my gills most of the time.

This is a cute little starfish missing only one leg. That’s pretty good by small starfish standards. This one is about five or six centimetres across. I’d say that about half of the starfish that I see are missing at least one leg:I think that it’s a Linckia multifora, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t look quite right.

However, what happens to the leg, if the fish which bit it off doesn’t like the taste? Well, we simply grow a whole new starfish from the leg. Some people call them arms, I call them legs, since we don’t walk on our arms, do we? Here on this severed Linckia multifora leg, you can see four tiny new legs growing out of the severed end:This is a pretty cute trick. Many organisms can do this. Medical researchers are busting their guts trying to find a way to mimic this behaviour in humans. The reason is obvious. Whoever solves the problem first will become the richest person on the planet.

Here is an absolutely lovely young Electric Swallowtail nudibranch (Chelidonura electra): Older specimens develop a lemon yellow edge around the edges.

This particularly nice Divericate Tree Coral (Dendronephthya roxasia) caught my eye:It’t quite lovely and I certainly appreciated the pleasure of seeing it.

However, this is my choice of the day for the shot which pleases me most:The little Glass Shrimp (Periclimenes holthuisi) is about as big as your thumbnail. He has several buddies swimming around him.

They are a nightmare to photograph. They are very small and don’t like the camera up close. They never stop moving, hoping around from place to place and waving their little pincers. Flash photography is useless; you have to use available light. Finally, they are nearly invisible in the first place! You can not see their bodies, only the spots.

It’s like playing “connect the dots”.

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Banana Bana Bo Bana

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on May 4th, 2010 by MadDog
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Wooo hooo, I got up this morning and felt like Atlas. The world was wobbling around on my shoulders. After yesterday’s near anxiety attack, I calmed down nicely with a couple of beers, a nice cheap cigar and some encouragement from my soul mate. This morning it was all back. Nobody should ever have to start a new job. People should get jobs at birth and keep them until they drop. Think of the savings in stress alone. Of course, many would die of boredom, especially the renegades who expect more from life. However it might be a neat solution to the population problem.

Rambling already and I haven’t even gotten to the pictures yet.

This morning ‘s sunrise didn’t help much:I was about as stormy and confused as the inside of my head. I took a 5mg Valium out of the bottle and put it in my pocket, determined not to use it unless I felt like I was coming unglued. I made it all the way to 08:30 before chewing it for nearly instant relief. I an such  a wuss! My excuse is that I’m a recovering bipolar. That’s even more lame.

Anyway, by the time that 10:00 rolled around I’d received several emails which ameliorated a soupcon of my self-doubt delivered a second blessed release of endorphins. It’s 14:24 now and I’m about half way down. I think I can do this. I know  I can do this! I’m The Little Editor Who Could! Hey, it’s not Rocket Science.

Which, in an unfathomable way, brings me to my bananas. Of course I do absolutely nothing to grow them. Juli, our house helper, has absolute dominion over the garden. I’m allowed to walk about importantly, stroking my beard and saying things like, “Ah, yes.” and “Coming along fine.” while wagging my cigar around in my teeth. I call it “Playing the Planter”. Here is a bunch of bananas which Juli harvested yesterday:

Note that they are green, but not the green which you get from temperate zone store bananas. These are one to four days from going brown. You have to eat them quickly. They are called banana mau  or ripe bananas. They are incredibly delicious. I prefer mine after a day or so when they turn yellow. Eunie likes hers a little firmer.

These however are the gold standard of banananess:

If you harvest at just the right time, you will probably be rewarded by a very few bananas which have ripened sufficiently on the stalk that their skins have split. You have mere hours to get to these. The level of flavour and aroma is indescribable. These “splits” are my favourite. Bananas in heaven must taste like this.

By the way, the title comes from the 1964 song The Name Game  written by Shirley Ellis. I remember it being all the rage. How simple life was then . . . hmmmm . . .

Switching from bananas now to something that doesn’t make my tummy gurgle with hunger, let’s have a look at my foolish interpretation of the week. This starfish, a Linckia multifora,  reminds me of (get ready for it now):A joyful person dressed in a cover-me-all-over pink cow suit running to the right and hollering something like “Whoop tee doo!” If I have to explain it, just move on. It’s getting crazy in here.

Let’s settle down now for some nice relaxing Dascylus Reticulatus:I don’t know why I say relaxing. They are very nervous fish. At the slightest threat they dart down into the spiky coral and hide. You can see a Red and Black Anemonefish over on the right. Note the greenish background colour. It was impossible to take available light images at The Eel Garden.  There was a metre of cold river water on top which was loaded with algae. Everything looked very green.

This last image blows my tiny little mind. This is two flatworms doing . . . something . . . I honestly don’t know what. Truly, I don’t care to speculate, but what the . . .  I can think of three possibilities. (1) a simple crossing of paths (3) someone is about to have lunch or (3) I don’t want to say it:I’m going with the “ships passing in the night” hypothesis. If this is true, it must be an astoundingly rare occurrence. As if you could possibly care, the dark one with the solid, 24 carat gold dots is a Thysanozoon nigropapillosum  and the fancy yellowish one being wrestled to the coral is a Pseudoceros dimidiatus.

I wish I was rich and had time to indulge my dilettante fantasies. I’d research this incident until the cows come home and write a scholarly paper to submit to some club of dorky flatworm experts. It would be my fifteen minutes of fame.

I would dig that.

Really.

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Waterspout!

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 21st, 2010 by MadDog
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I had intended today to write a post called “Green’s the Thing”, but then Trevor Hattersley came into the office with an image on a flash drive which upset me very much. Last Sunday, work seemed more critical than fun. I turned down an invitation to come up to the beach at Blueblood for the second week in a row. As if that’s not bad enough, I missed seeing something that I’ve wanted to see all of my life – a waterspout!

Here’s Trevor’s nice shot of the waterspout:You can clearly see that it appears to be a hollow tube. He said that the base was visibly sucking water up from the sea. He tried to get a telephoto shot, but a temporary brain malfunction prevented him from remembering what I’ve told him a thousand times about focusing his camera. Thanks, Trevor for the shot. I sneer at you for not telling me that a waterspout was on the entertainment schedule.

So, to the green. Green just happens to be my favourite colour. Green stuff is easy to find on the reef, especially if you pay attention to corals. Here is a close-up shot of a Brain Coral (Platygyra lamellina):The tracks of skeletal material are not always squiggly; sometimes they are straight:The area which you see in the image above is about 10cm wide.

Acropora  corals can also be green. This one is about the size of a large coffee table:In this shot, you can see hints of the spiral shapes that dominates the large scale growth pattern of many corals.

We’ll take a brief break from coral to adore this cute little Linckia multifora  starfish:Three of its arms have been bitten off, but are growing back nicely.

Prepare to use your imagination. Look at the right side of this Acropora  coral:Does it look a little like Australia to you?

Well, it’s almost 07:00 and I have to quit now. When I got back from diving on Saturday the motor on Faded Glory  would not go up, only down. Down doesn’t help. Up is what I needed. So, this morning, I have to take the boat over to the marina to get it fixed. I’m often reminded that a boat is simply a hole in the water into which you pour money.

I’ll leave you with a nice shot of our lovely orange lilies:Now I have to haul the fuel tank and the battery out to Faded Glory.

If I leave them on the boat they will be stolen within a week. Security guards seem to believe that their primary duty is to get a good night’s sleep. Useless! Why do we bother?

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Warship Panorama, Blondes and Other Stuff

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks, Under the Sea on April 7th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today is yet another day when there will be no plot to follow. I’m free associating. Come along for the ride. The big Australian Hydrographic Survey Ship HMAS Leeuwin sitting across the harbour from our house inspired me to Zoomify nearly the entire west side of the peninsula.

Here is the view from our front yard in a zoomable image:

On the far left is the main wharf and the warehouse. Moving to the right, you see HMAS Leeuwin.  If you zoom in as far as possible, you can read the name of the ship on the side of the bridge. At the far right is a the only three floor house in Madang. It belongs to a big-shot politician about whom I will say nothing else. I’m not a fool. In front of the house is a sunken boat. Again, no comment.

Geeks may be interested to know that the image above is about 20 MB and is comprised of nearly 1,000 files.

Eunie occasionally feeds me tidbits from the newspaper. I read neither The Post Courier  nor The National.  They’re simply too depressing. However this tasty morsel merits a bit of space here:

BLONDE-haired women may be traditionally labeled as fun-loving and less intelligent but a new study reveals they earn seven percent more on average than women with other hair colours. They also marry wealthier men, who earn six percent more than the husbands of other women, the University of Queensland study revealed. The study, which surveyed 13,000 women, found that the difference in pay remained the same even when factors such as height and education were removed. No other hair colour had the same effect. The research, reported in journal Economics Letters, does not explain just why blondes earned more and have wealthier husbands. But Dr David Johnston, who led the study, said: “Blonde women are often depicted as being more attractive than other women, but also less intelligent. But it seems the association between blondes and beauty dominates any perception that they have low intelligence.”

You see, this makes perfect sense to me. Having married a fun-loving blonde who is also, I’m quite certain, the Smartest Person On the Planet, none of the positive aspects of blondeness surprise me. My wife missed out on the big money, but that’s because she married for love. That she got a looser for her trouble is not her fault. I’ll never be a big earner, but I’m ever so sincere and also cute and cuddly – like a 59 kilogram puppy.

Well, I’m not out of space yet. I’ve done a lot of work this morning and I have a few minutes before my lunch hour. I don’t actually take a lunch hour. I just eat while I work. That leaves me more time for a beer when I get home. Then I have to go back to work again in our “other” office. I’m not complaining. It’s not like I’m stoking boilers on the Titanic.  Most of my work is enjoyable now that I have the network bludgeoned into submission. So, since I’ve got the time, here’s this morning’s sunrise which I have titled from the depths of my boundless imagination Sunrise with Canoe:Also, since we can’t have a post without a fish smell, I’ll show you a Mushroom or Solitary Coral (Fungia fungites):The green stuff is a kind of Sea Squirt. Tomorrow I’m going to show you the biggest blob of those that you are ever likely to see. I bet you an hardly wait. The anemone above and to the right is the fairly rare Merton’s Anemone.

Here’s a cute little Linckia multifora  Starfish:That one’s for you Julie. It seems that one of his legs has decided to have its own way. In reality, I suspect very strongly that this starfish regenerated from a single severed leg. That would explain the one huge leg while the others are small. They are only now approaching normal size after having sprouted from the cut end of the severed leg.

Maybe if I ate enough of these I could grow a new face.

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Start With Fish!

Posted in Under the Sea on January 1st, 2010 by MadDog
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Man, I can’t believe that it’s 2010 already. I just got used to writing year numbers beginning with “2”. Now I have to retain my hand to leave out the “00” in the middle. What a bummer! I’ll probably jump ahead and start writing 20010. Hey wasn’t that a “thirties-something” TV series? No, wait, it’s the ZIP code for Washington, DC. See, I’m aimlessly rambling already. I hope that that’s not an omen.

Anyway, let’s start with things that are not  fish. This is not a fish:

As any fool can see, it’s a spider, a very familiar spider, on a yellow flower. I cannot stop taking pictures of these amusing little spiders. They are certainly prolific. On many days there will be one of these little fellows on nearly every blossom. I suspect that it also has a very specialised hunting technique targeted to insects that feed on and pollinate these flowers. It is obviously an ambush predator, as are many spiders. It does not depend on its web, which you can see if you click to enlarge. The web wraps around the central parts of the flower and may or may not take part in the capture. These spiders eat tiny striped-wing flies on which I have often seen them feeding.

And, this also is not  a fish, though the name implies otherwise:

It’s a Starfish (Linckia multifora)  on the old catamaran at the Eel Garden near Pig Island.

And, neither is this a fish. I got this shot to illustrate that everywhere you look in the sea you find the spiral. It’s one of natures’ most common themes:It is, of course, coral. Specifically, it’s Acropora clathrata.  Now you know. Isn’t that a relief?

Now, these are  fish. This rather disorganised mob of Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus)  are regrouping after being startled out of their tiny wits my me attempting to get close enough for a picture:They will shortly resume their normal feeding habit of marching above the sand in a line like soldiers policing up cigarette butts.

And, this is also a fish, the Pixy Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus):A very pretty fish it is. These look very much more interesting against a dark, blurred background. You can then better see the delicate structure of its dorsal fin, an exercise in excess detail. You can see what I mean in this post featuring the Dwarf Hawkfish, a closely related species. By the way, this is the red variation of the species. The other variation is less colourful.

So, let’s finish up with everybody’s favourite fish – Nemo:Nemo, a Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)  is here with friends and me today to wish you a very happy New Year.

Now I have to start thinking seriously about my New Year’s Resolution.

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