Sex Change


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

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The blue ribbon eel is one of the most fascinating creatures of change.  All of the ribbon eels are born male.  Toward the last year of their life, they may begin to turn yellow, and also turn into a female.  All yellow ribbon eels are female, and all blue ribbon eels are male.  A female ribbon eel will procreate after she has changed, and then die, so it is very rare to see a yellow ribbon eel.

Blue Ribbon Eel

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Three’s A Crowd


I thought it might be fun to participate in the Weekly Photo Challenge since the theme this week is one of my specialties!  These yellow coral gobies make their home inside an empty beer bottle.

THREE'S A CROWD

THREE’S A CROWD

To learn more about the weekly photo challenge, click HERE.

Fun Facts about the Cuttlefish


Of all the interesting creatures in the sea, the cuttlefish has to be one of the most unusual.  Though it bears the name “fish,” it isn’t a fish at all, but a cephalopod, which includes creatures such as octopus, squid, and nautiluses. The Cuttlefish wears its shell on the inside and is called a cuttlebone.  This bone is used to help keep the cuttlefish neutrally bouyant.  Many bird owners buy cuttlefish bones at pet supply stores for their birds to sharpen their beaks on.  One of the remarkable things about cuttlefish, is their ability to blend in.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This little guy is a fraction of the size of the cuttlefish in the above picture.  No bigger than my thumb, it also takes on the color and texture of its surroundings.

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One of the amazing things about this Cephalopod, is watching it feed.  It has a very long “tongue” that slowly protrudes from it’s mouth until it is a fraction of an inch from it’s pray, then it quickly grabs it’s food and reels it in, in the blink of an eye.

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The male and female pair below are courting.  A male cuttlefish has four pairs of tentacles, while a female has three.  Sometimes younger or weaker males may try to hide one of their pairs of tentacles by tucking them in so that they can approach a female unnoticed by other dominant males.  When they mate, the male places a sperm sack inside the mouth of the female with one of his tentacles.  She saves it until she is ready to fertilize her eggs.

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One of the most exciting cuttlefish is the Flamboyant cuttlefish.  This one doesn’t try to blend in at all.  On the contrary, they are as colorful as can be, hence their appropriate name.  Sometimes their colors will undulate so that it looks like its white stripe is moving down its body.  They often hold up the two front tentacles in a “boxing” stance if they are feeling threatened.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810  in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Are You My Mother?


Spring is in the air and it seems like all the little animals are twitterpated.  Outside my kitchen window, two sparrows are building a nest, and a robin has already laid eggs in my wisteria bush.  Under water, similar developments are taking place.  Each time I dive, I look for animals with eggs, or nests of eggs.  The attraction of documenting new life is irresistible to me.  Perhaps it is my maternal instincts, but I often wonder if these little creatures ever know who their mother is?

Cardinal fish with fresh eggs
Cardinal fish with fresh eggs

Cardinal fish are fascinating in that the male fish will gather all the eggs in his mouth and brood them until they hatch.  He will periodically open his mouth wide, and aerate the eggs.  When they are pink, as in the image above, they are newly laid.  Later, the eggs will turn silvery and the eyes of the fry will be visible, as in the image below.  In this case, the babies may hatch to discover who their father is, but wonder about mommy.

Cardinal fish with well developed eggs

Cardinal fish with well developed eggs

Another parent who stays with its eggs until they hatch is this tiny goby.  Sometimes, both parents will care for the eggs, aerating them with their fins.

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Both male and female yellow bearded gobies stay with their eggs until they hatch as well.  These fish lay their eggs deep inside the hard corals where they live to help protect them from predators.

Yellow bearded goby with eggs

Yellow bearded goby with eggs

And in the image below, a male and female robust ghost pipe fish await the arrival of their brood which are developing inside a pouch which the female has made between her pelvic fins.  The interesting thing here is that after the eggs have been deposited into this pouch, small branches will grow from her skin and attach to the eggs.  It is thought this acts as a sort of umbilical cord.  Although the robust ghost pipe fish is related to other pipefishes such as sea horses, it is the female, not the male who has the brooding pouch.

A male and female Robush Ghost Pipefish with eggs.

A male and female Robush Ghost Pipefish with eggs.

Clearly, there are responsible mothers AND fathers in the kingdom of the fishes.  We may never read about the tiny newborn fish who wandered around asking the kitten, the hen, and the dog, the cow and the snort, “Are You My Mother?”

 If you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
 All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

 

New Galleries!


I have added two new galleries to my webpage at waterdogphotography.com  from my recent trip to the Philippines.  Stop by and have a look!

Wonderpus

Wonderpus

Anilao Philippines 2015 Gallery

Diver over a bed of Chocolate Chip Stars
Diver over a bed of Chocolate Chip Stars

Puerto Galera Philippines Gallery

All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me.

Feeling Crabby?


To some, the mention of “crab” conjures up images of warm butter sauce and crab claw crackers.  I will admit, that I am fond of a good mouthwatering crab claw, but today I was feeling a little crabby, and not in a hungry, appetite sort of way.   The crabs I am thinking of are too small for human consumption, although I’ve seen a wrasse gobble them up without a second thought.  I have accumulated a good number of crab images in my underwater adventures.  It is remarkable that the crab family is as huge and diverse as it is.  There are hundreds and probably thousands of different crabs and they are all on a photographer’s “hit” list as far as shooting them goes.  One of the features I love the most about crabs is their eyes.  They have very interesting claws too, but their eyes are curious and colorful and seem to portray depth and intensity.  Many people may regard crabs as the spiders of the sea, but unlike spiders, I have no fear of crabs.  To me they are fascinating creatures who deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to the balance of the marine environment.

Spotted Porcelain Crab
Spotted Porcelain Crab

This beautiful Spotted Porcelain Crab lives among the tentacles of anemones.  It has feather-like appendages that it uses to sift the water for plankton and other tiny nutritious micro algae.  The feather-like fans are like little hands that reach out and grab tiny meals out of the water and stuff them in the crabs mouth.  It makes you wonder why he has such big claws?

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Big claws certainly belong to this Spotted Reef Crab.  Its carapace can get up to around 7 inches wide.  It is also known as a Seven Eleven crab in Hawaii because it has seven spots on the top of its shell, and four along it’s back side.  In Hawaii, there is a story of a hungry god who caught the crab and was pinched by it, drawing blood.  Although the hungry god got his meal, the crabs descendents still bear the god’s bloody fingerprints on it’s shell.

Mosaic Boxer Crab
Mosaic Boxer Crab

One of my favorites is this boxer crab.  It looks like a bruiser with it’s slitted eye pattern.  This one especially so as it has a tiny anemone growing over it’s eye that just resembles a black eye.  These crabs hold a tiny anemone in each claw that they use for defense.  The anemones get their side of the bargain, too.  They get transported around so that they can more easily grab nutrients from the water with their tentacles.

Orange Hermit Crab

Orange Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

These hermit crabs represent a huge population of crabs that live inside a shell, coral, or any other object (even rocks) they can climb into.  It is their eyes that mesmerize me.  They can be virtually any color, but the blue-eyed ones are my favorite.  Up close, you can see into their depths.  Their iris bears an uncanny resemblance to human eyes, and their pupils follow you around like those creepy statues in the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.

Hairy Squat Lobster
Hairy Squat Lobster

This image is actually a squat lobster, and not a crab, but it deserves mention anyway.  It is covered with tiny hairs and lives on huge barrel sponges.  It is also a bit flamboyant with it’s purple veins, pink body, and orange eyes.

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

The Orangutan crab is often found on bubble coral and has turned under claws at the end of its feet that resemble an orangutan.  They are sometimes orange or brown, and often red.  Their bodies are covered with tiny hairlike fibers which seem to accumulate debris.

Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab
Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab

Soft  coral crabs like to hide down in the coral and have to be coaxed up to the top to pose for the camera.  This one has a friend on it’s shoulder.  They have red, multidimensional eyes that seem to see everything at once.  Sometimes they accumulate “weeds” that begin to grow on their bodies making them resemble decorator crabs.

You can see more of my images on my flikr stream or at  waterdogphotography.com,
Also, I love to make new friends!  Please visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/waterdogphotographyunderthesea
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me.

Love Affair, A Nudiphile Episode


I am having a love affair with this tiny little Sacoglassan sea slug called Placida cremoniana.  I know, it all sounds like scientific jibberish, so putting all the big words aside, I’ll just call it PC.

In the past few weeks, I have made several trips out to Catalina Island to search for the tiny beast.  It was necessary to collect some specimen so that their DNA could be analyzed, as they have never been found in California.  This will tell us whether PC came from the bilge of a passing ship, or if it has spread slowly from the south, or if it is an entirely new critter altogether. Interestingly enough, the slug seems to be plentiful in numbers.  I found them as small as 1mm and as large as about 6mm in length.

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

The unusually warm waters along the Pacific coast for the past year or more have encouraged many warm water life forms to journey north.  Most of the sightings have been of very large creatures such as a Whale Shark, Sperm Whales, Hammerhead sharks, and a plethora of fish such as yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and even Ono.  I was lamenting the fact that I haven’t seen any of these southern visitors yet, when I found this very tiny sea slug.  I guess I should have set my sights smaller in the first place!

Placida cremoniana.  As it turned around, it reared up and showed it's underside.

Placida cremoniana. As it turned around, it reared up and showed it’s underside.

If it is just a warm water visitor, then it may be a temporary condition.  Kinda sad, when you think about it.  If it cannot survive in California’s usually temperate water, then an entire population may disappear from our waters.  When you consider that I have been able to find them on every dive I have been on since I first found one, that becomes a very large population.   I hope to be able to report soon where this critter has come from.  If it truly is Placida cremoniana, then it is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean and spread to the western Pacific from Japan all the way to Australia.  Several years ago, one was found in Baja, so the possibility of it coming up from the south is an interesting one.  Stay tuned….

Just for the sake of size context:  the bottom right corner is the texture of the skin on my finger.

Just for the sake of size context: the bottom right corner is the texture of the skin on my finger.

All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please use the contact form below.