Creepy Crawly


The words “Creepy Crawly” often conjure up images of centipedes, spiders, caterpillars, and other unsavory types of insects we would classify as pests.  As I was searching through images I took in Anilao, Philippines, I realized that what we photographers affectionately refer to as “critters” in the ocean, might be considered a creepy crawly if it lived on land.

Dragon Shrimp, AKA Rhino Shrimp

Dragon Shrimp, AKA Rhino Shrimp

The critter in the image above is a dragon shrimp.  Not the kind you might have as a sushi plate, however.  This little guy is only about a centimeter or two in length.  It lives on whip coral and black coral.  The way it clings to the branch of the coral reminds me of a grasshopper.

Zanzibar Whip Coral Shrimp

Zanzibar Whip Coral Shrimp

The Whip Coral Shrimp looks similar to the dragon shrimp, only it doesn’t have three spikes on it’s back.  It does have a pointed spike behind its eyes, though.  These shrimp are translucent, making them very interesting to study closely.

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp

Anker’s Whip Coral Shrimp

Another Whip Coral Shrimp looks a lot like the Zanzibar, but doesn’t have the spikes on its back.

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp

Anker’s Whip Coral Shrimp

Here is an ocean-dwelling spider-like crab, called a Conical Spider Crab.  It also dwells on whip coral, and reminds me of a spider getting ready to jump.

Conical Spider Crab

Conical Spider Crab

Broken Back Shrimp AKA Ocellated Tozeuma Shrimp.

Broken Back Shrimp AKA Ocellated Tozeuma Shrimp.

This is one of the larger creepy crawlies, coming in at about 5 cm.  I call this the Pinnochio crab because it’s nose is almost as long as it’s body.

Elegant Crinoid Squat Lobster faces off with a Slender Crinoid Shrimp.

Elegant Crinoid Squat Lobster faces off with a Slender Crinoid Shrimp.

I was lucky enough to spot a Squat Lobster on the same arm of a crinoid as a slender shrimp.  Both are about a centimeter long, and just happened to be facing each other.

Whip Coral Shrimp

Whip Coral Shrimp

My last image is of another Whip Coral Shrimp.  This one matches its host, and is almost impossible to find, making it invisible to predators.  It is also about a centimeter in length.

One of the interesting things about the creepy crawly critters in the ocean, is that they don’t creep me out like the creepy crawly critters on land.  I wonder what the difference is?  It can’t possibly be because of their ability to crawl down my neck, because I did find crinoids creeping up my leg several times while in Anilao, and I didn’t freak out.  I guess it is just another one of the wonders of the sea!

 

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.

A Day in the Life of a Hydro-Sapien


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.

Slender Crinoid Shrimp (Araiopontonia odontorhyncha)
Slender Crinoid Shrimp
(Araiopontonia odontorhyncha)

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.

Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellidae)

Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellidae)

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)

Yup.  That's mommy in the middle, holding about two dozen babies.

Yup. That’s mommy in the middle, holding about two dozen babies.

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.

Skeleton Shrimp and Nudibranch

Skeleton Shrimp and Nudibranch

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.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish  (Solenostomidae)

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomidae)

Just to satisfy your curiosity, a few other ghost pipefish are the Robust and Halemida (below)

Halemida Ghost Pipefish

Halemida Ghost Pipefish

Robust Ghost Pipefish

Robust Ghost Pipefish

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.

Paddle-flap Scorpion fish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri)

Paddle-flap Scorpion fish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri)

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.

sea owl

sea owl

sea owls

sea owls

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.

Sea Spider

Sea Spider

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.

Electric Fileclam

Electric Fileclam

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?

 

What’s Buggin’ You?


The last few weeks our weather has turned a bit wintery and although I long to get back in the water to my “studio,” I have found an alternate that is almost as enticing.  I have always been fascinated by the little critters, especially some of the more unusual ones.  Happily, there are plenty of odd little bugs to photograph on land.  Here are some of my favorites:

Juvenile Praying Mantis

Juvenile Praying Mantis

I found this little praying mantis one day walking up my arm.  I had been outside thinning the peach tree, and I guess he hitched a ride.  I carefully put him back on the tree where he graciously posed for some very flattering portraits.

aussie caterpillar

Cairns Birdwing Caterpillar

Sometimes we get all creeped-out by insects.  It is hard to believe that the spikey-creepy-crawly caterpillar above becomes the beautiful Cairns Birdwing butterfly which is endemic to Australia.  These papilions can have a wingspan of up to 11 inches.  One of the photographs below is of a male, the other female.  Can you guess which one is which?

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

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 In contrast to the huge butterflies above, is this little velvet moth that was just over a quarter of an inch long.  It landed on my bathroom mirror one morning where it almost got clobbered by the flat of my hand until I saw it’s brilliant red wings and decided it was photogenic.  It stayed on the mirror all day, and finally flew away in the evening.

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Okay, so on to a REALLY creepy bug. The creature below is a walking stick.  Don’t ask how that thing eats with a mouth like that, because I have no idea.  He was about three inches long and moved slowly up the branch like he was stalking me.

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A Bumble Bee comes in for a landing

A Bumble Bee comes in for a landing

One of the most common fliers is the bumble bee.  They are surprisingly difficult to photograph.  That is partly because they are always moving, and partly because this photographer is wary of being stung.  These guys were busy collecting the first of this year’s pollen.

A Bee gathers pollen from a poppy

A Bee gathers pollen from a poppy

As I was photographing the flowers and bees, this little fly stopped by to rub his back legs together.  He only visited for a moment, but I caught him!

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The bug below is a common nuisance.  When I was a kid, we called them fire-bugs, but my dad called them Box Elder bugs.  He was right, that is the common name.  You have probably stepped on these outside your front door.

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Last but certainly not least; the creepiest of all creepers in my opinion, is the spider.  I believe this one still resides in Hana, Hawaii, guarding the seven sacred pools and protecting visitors from the horde of flying bugs that torment tourists.

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I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the insect world.  While they fascinate me beyond reasonable measure, they also give me the heebie-jeebies and I wouldn’t want to find one crawling down my back.  Yet, I can’t help being visually stimulated by them.  How about you?