A Hydro-Sapien is an advanced species that thrives in water and on land. I think I have evolved into one of these during the last few years. I definitely thrive in water. The most exciting thing about this is discovering all the things that have evolved under water that the land dwelling Homo-Sapiens are unaware of. Some of these critters are so indistinct, that my photographs of them are meaningless to the common land-dweller. I will attempt to educate the waterless by taking you on an underwater photo-safari of some of the more obscure creatures.
The shrimp family is truly vast. And weird. They are colorful and full of character. The Crinoid shrimp (above) is hosted on another animal called a Crinoid. Crinoids come in many colors, and the shrimp that inhabit their tentacles match their color. They are very small, growing up to 1.5 cm.
The Skeleton shrimp is one of my favorite. It is actually an amphipod, whose slender body makes it look like a filament of seaweed. The female will carry her babies all over her body which makes them look like a creepy mass of claws and legs. (below)
The skeleton shrimp below appears to be riding on a nudibranch. She reminds me of a queen riding on a float, waving at her underlings. They are very entertaining to watch. They move somewhat like an inchworm and spark the imagination with their unique character.
Next is the Ornate Ghost Pipefish. These small fish come in a lot of different colors. The one below is a male, black, Ornate Ghost Pipefish. They often hide among plants that look just like them.
Just to satisfy your curiosity, a few other ghost pipefish are the Robust and Halemida (below)
The Paddle-Flap Scorpionfish (below) is a rare and odd shaped fish. It has a false “eye” (the white spot below it’s real eye), to trick it’s prey into thinking it isn’t watching when it really is.
Here’s a tiny little, uh, thing: They do have a scientific name; Idiomysis. They are called sea owls by the locals. They hover above anemones and are about the size of an ant.
The Homosapien in me is pretty creeped out by spiders. But, it turns out, spiders inhabit the sea too. This one was one of many that inhabited some seaweed. After the “photo shoot” I had the heebie jeebies for hours.
The electric file clam (below) is hard to describe. It would look better in video. The iridescent blue that lines it’s mantle actually looks like light or electricity moving across it.
These are only a few examples of the unique aquatic beasties under the sea. With thousands more to see, it’s no wonder I’ve developed gills. Don’t you wish you were a Hydrosapien too?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” Maybe the Sherlock Holmes in me agrees and that is why I am fascinated by the little things. In this post are some of the tiniest things I have found in the ocean. All of them are smaller than one or two centimeters, and some of them I can’t explain.
This is a juvenile frogfish. It was no bigger than my thumbnail. They “hop” around on their front “legs” like a frog. As they get older, they take on the coloring of their environment and become almost invisible to predators and their prey.
Here a ghost shrimp poses on a Red Gorgonian. Only 5 mm or so, I could not see it without a magnifying lens.
The tube worms (above and below) are about two centimeters when their plumes are fully open.
The Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) is a highly prized subject to photograph because of it’s super camouflage and general cuteness. This one was about a centimeter in length.
One of my favorite subjects to photograph is the nudibranch. This one is known as a California Chromodorid (or Hypselodoris californiensis). Although they can get up to 90 mm, this one was no longer than 10 mm.
A colorful Simnia (Delonovolva aequalis) lays eggs along the stem of a red gorgonian (below). It’s shell is around two cm long. If not for the eggs, it would have been very difficult to see, as it blends nicely with it’s environment.
Sometimes, things show up in photographs by accident. In the two photos below, I had another subject in mind, but when I blew up the image on the computer screen, I discovered tiny creatures. The first one is obviously a shrimp, about 2mm in length. The second is anyone’s guess. Just critters that resemble bugs. They are marked with arrows, and are less than 2mm.
In this case, the Sherlock in me gives way to Doris Lessing who said, “Small things amuse small minds.” She may be right.
I’ve been thinking about Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian Crab. I think he hit the nail on the head with his philosophy about the joys of being under the sea! He said,“The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake. You dream about goin’ up there, but that is a big mistake. Just look at the world around you, Right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you, What more is you lookin’ for? Under the sea Under the sea Darling it’s better Down where it’s wetter Take it from me!”
Well, He is right. The ocean floor is where all the crustaceans creep about. It is always a thrill to come upon one of these fascinating creatures.
The arrow crab has a long pointed head, and shovels food into it’s mouth with it’s two front appendages.
The diversity of the crabs is one of the most interesting things. Below are a few decorator crabs. These crabs take pieces of sponge and moss and attach them to their bodies for camouflage. See if you can spot their eyes. They are a little easier to put in perspective that way.
This guy (above) is completely covered with bits of plant matter, except for his eyes and two front claws. If he hadn’t moved, I would have never seen him. The crab below also has some great camouflage going.
Hermit crabs are some of my favorite subjects to photograph. I love how their eyes protrude from under the shell and watch the camera.
And finally, the shrimps!
This banded shrimp has a claw on every foot. Although the two front ones are the largest, he uses all of them to put food in his mouth.
The red ones above are often found in the den of an eel as they clean the eel’s body of parasites.
Down here all the fish is happy, as off through the waves they roll. The fish on the land ain’t happy, They sad ’cause they in their bowl. But fish in the bowl is lucky, They in for a worser fate, One day when the boss get hungry, Guess who’s gon’ be on the plate!
Under the sea
Under the sea
We got no troubles
Live is the bubbles
Under the Sea!
When people find out I am a scuba diver, the first question most of them ask is, “Aren’t you afraid?” I can honestly answer that, No, I am not afraid. In fact, any fear that I should have is immediately pushed aside in favor of fascination when I am under the water. I believe that this is the innate nature of the sport, and that most divers will claim that fascination overcomes fear. Some of the creatures that might inspire fear are great photo subjects. Others appear harmless, but may pack a punch if their environment is disturbed too much.
This sea snake, and several others like it, kept several of the divers on the boat. That was unfortunate for them, because I had a fabulous interaction with the snakes. They followed me around the dive site, curiously posing for the camera and watching their reflections in my dome port. I didn’t know it at the time, but two of the snakes entangled themselves in my legs as I was leaving the site, and my husband captured it on his GoPro. I enjoyed this dive more than any other because of the snakes, and never even considered fear among my reactions to them.
Another creature that inspires fear is the eel. They do have a lot of teeth, and their mouths are often open which may make them look formidable. Most of the time, though, they are simply breathing or being cleaned by the shrimp that inhabit their dens with them.
This barracuda might have been a little upset at my presence in the water. At the time, I thought he was just very interested in having his picture taken as he kept circling me, coming closer each time. This is one creature I should have had more respect for, as he is capable of harm if he feels threatened. However, fear never crossed my mind, and it was only with hindsight that I realized his aggressive behavior was a warning.
This small fireworm looks harmless enough. It is important that you never assume anything, though and never touch a creature even if it appears harmless. The fibers on the sides of the worm have a stinging venom that can be quite uncomfortable.
Here’s another venomous fish, that is absolutely beautiful, but has stinging fins. This one was guarding it’s many children which can be seen along the right side of the photograph.
Sometimes fish just look formidable. Or just plain ugly, like this toad fish.
This Cabezon aggressively attacked my camera. He was less than a foot long, and didn’t have teeth, but he had an impressive nest to guard, and perceived me as a threat. I still didn’t fear him, but I did respect his space, and backed off when I realized I had stressed him.
So to my non-diving friends; the creatures in the ocean don’t need to be feared, but they do need to be respected. The likelihood of being a victim of an attack is very small when you respect the reef and it’s inhabitants. A little education about sea life goes a long way too! Most of the time, I am simply charmed.