Things One Seldom Sees

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on March 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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I get a lot of enjoyment from writing daily, though it is sometimes very difficult to find the time. However, I do sometimes question myself as to why  I do it. Getting away from the TV is a good enough excuse. Also, since it looks as if writing, editing and photography are going to be  a major part of my work from now on, I need the discipline of writing every day, whether I really feel like doing it or not. So, I’ve got plenty of good reasons to keep cranking it out.

Then, I ask myself why I have so many readers – ten times the highest number that I ever hoped for and growing month-by-month. What do I provide that people seek? What is is about the content of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  that draws an audience that dwarfs my wildest aspirations?

Well, I can think of some things that it is probably not.  It’s hardly great literature. It’s certainly not deep thinking. In fact, frivolity, sarcasm and whimsy are my favourite seasonings. The photography is so-so, but there is much more spectacular stuff available at the click of a link. The subject matter is pretty tightly focused, being mostly about me, me, me,  so, unless you’re stalking me, that’s not it. Hmmm . . . subject matter – content . . . maybe that has something to do with it.

Truthfully, I think that what I may provide is distraction.  No matter who or where you are, what you are doing or what your current state of mind may be, whatever you find here each day is likely to distract you, maybe rattle your cage a little. I know that I have to rattle my cage pretty hard just to get my fingers moving to write it. My hope is not to make you think or impress you with great ideas or even make you gaga over the pretty pictures. It is simply to provide you with a little break. Whatever you see here is almost bound to be a different kettle of fish than whatever presently occupies your mind.

So, with that in mind, I’ll present you with a small assemblage of  images which signify nothing. I found them handy on my camera card from the last week or so. Make of it what you will.

When I see our boat, Faded Glory  in my dreams, this is how she looks:

Not that I dream of her often. I have many more amusing subjects. I dream much more often now than I did a few years ago. And the colour has returned!

I bet that you have never seen a nudibranch playground:I can see seven nudibranchs here of two different species. There is one potential courtship and a possible mixed-species ménage à trois,  if you care to examine the scene closely. I’ll make no moral judgements. They quite literally don’t know what they are doing.

Okay, if you’re settled down from that, maybe you’re ready for this:

This is our guru IT  advisor and general “get me out of this mess” guy, Mark Bleyerveld. He is up a pole, as you can see. What is not obvious is that it is a very tall and springy pole. I took this shot at 5x telephoto. The leaves are the top of a rather tall coconut tree. If you’ve seen big coconut trees, you get the idea. Mark is not only smart, he’s brave. No, make that crazy. By the way, the pole is the same one that you saw in yesterday’s telephoto shot. You can find the image in the link in the next pargraph.

Mark is installing the final links in our Free From TELIKOM crusade. By this evening I expect to be cruising the web at 54MBS in my home without having passed through a single wire belonging to TELIKOM. Hurrah!

While I was over at the coconut oil refinery where pole-climbing Mark was sweating away in the sun, I snapped this shot of the giant machines that grind out the skin-softening ingredient that many of the ladies adore:Let me tell you that it is very  loud in there and it stinks!  The smell is like a million burnt coconut macaroons stuffed up your nose and pounded in solidly with a jackhammer. Even with my severely retarded olfactory capability (sinus infection still with me), I had to hold my breath.

Stay with me. I’m about to wrap it up with a little colour. You’ve seen the Nudibranch Pteraeolidia ianthina  here before, but not this particular one whose name is Fred, or maybe Frederica:We know where a bunch of them hang out, so I’m working on getting the perfect shot.

You’ve also seen the Chelidonura inornata  before, but this is my best shot so far: You can see some of them in the playground shot above.

Tomorrow is dive day. I still have the pesky sinus infection, but tomorrow morning I’m supposed to get a definitive diagnosis and a prescription. That’s always an iffy thing here.

We’ll see how it goes.

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Planet Rock – Nudibranch Metropolis

Posted in Under the Sea on February 10th, 2010 by MadDog
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Last Saturday, with my buddy Rich Jones spotting for me, we had a nudibranch-fest at Planet Rock.  Because of the river water covering the top of the sea mount, there wasn’t enough light to avoid using the flash on my Canon G11. However, this worked to my advantage when shooting nudibranchs.

There are so many kinds of nudibranchs that I sometimes have difficulty identifying them. I have a book on marine invertebrates, but it includes only about a hundred nudibranch species. There are far more than that within twenty minutes of my house. Sometimes it’s difficult to get it down to even the genus level, because species within a given genus can appear wildly different.

Ah, I can hear some yawning out there, so let’s get down to the pretty pictures.

This one is fairly easy. I can tell that it’s a Pteraeolidia  of some kind, probably P. ianthina:I have a very difficult time finding these. They are usually only about 1.5 to 2 cm long. Richard is a master at spotting them, being a total freak about nudibranchs. We spotted two in a row. This is the second one:I know that it’s very illogical, but I sometimes wonder how something like this can even be alive. It is so utterly alien to anything that we are used to seeing. If you think about it, they are no less bizarre than the deep-sea monstrosities that we sometimes see in the news. It’s often said that we know more about the surface of Mars and our Moon than we know about the abyssal habitats of the oceans. I don’t know if that is true, but I can take it in.

The next ones that I have to show you are among my favourite nudis, the Electric Swallowtails.

This Electric Swallowtail (Chelidonura electra)  is relatively common around here. You can see it elsewhere in Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  Just put swallowtail in the search box and you’ll see all of the posts which contain images.

Here is another individual of the same species. As you can see they are amazingly plastic. I’m reminded of Rubber Man from my comic book days. For example, have a look at this one moving from one bit of coral to another:I estimate that between the two shots above the critter increased its body length by a factor of four. I measure about 164cm (that’s 5’ 4” and a half for metric-challenged Americans) in my bare feet, not exactly a giant. If I could stretch out that far, I’d be 6.5 metres tall. I’d have to bend over to look in 1st floor windows (that’s second floor windows for Americans).

Perhaps I should explain, briefly. In America, the numbering of floors, in common parlance, begins with the floor that is more or less even with the ground, in other words, it is just above what would be the first basement floor. This, in America, is called the first floor. The floor above it is the second and so forth. In much of the rest of the world, the said floor even with the ground is called . . . well, it’s called the ground floor. Hard to argue with, eh? Then, of course, you have to call the next floor the first floor and so forth. Forget mezzanines and such which just add additional confusion. I’ll not get into which is correct or more logical. I’m just explaining the way it is.

Oh, my, I’ve drifted off point again. That’s happening more and more lately. Let’s get back to the nudibranchs.

Here is a final shot of Electric Swallowtails enjoying an intimate moment:I shal not describe their activity. This is a family-friendly site (mostly). Use your immagination.

This is an entirely different nudibranch which is soometimes referred to as the Black Electric Swallowtail, the Chelidonura inornata:As you can see, there are physical similarities, but the pigmentation is radically different.

We saw quite a few of these. In one small area, less than a quarter metre square, there were five enjoying an impromptu love-fest. Here are a couple of frolicking nudis for you:Richard spotted some eggs and attempted to point them out to me. I was busy snapping, so I missed them. I could see him gesturing and attempting to say, “Eggs” through his regulator, It came out something like, “Eblublublelbgshblubelbule”. I couldn’t translate, so I never did see the eggs. I didn’t know about them until I was back on Faded Glory.  I’d never have found the spot again on my own and Rich is limited to one dive because of his insurance limitations. So we said forget the eggs.

However, while snapping away, I peeped on further evidence of a sort of nudibranch Woodstock:Naked nudis doing the boogaloo right out in the open. Shocking!

I wonder what they were smoking.

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