Friday, May 2, 2008

Night Dives In The Grotto

This is a guaranteed, can't miss sighting on every single night dive I've ever been on out here. The parrotfish like to find little holes to sleep in. They blow a big mucous bubble around themselves and then go totally unconcious, and yes, they sleep with their eyes wide open. But if you look between rocks and back in little holes, you will find these guys everywhere looking just like this.
You will also see little shrimp like this out hunting for a midnight snack. There are several different kinds of shrimp, but very rarely do you see any that look like they are the size you would see in a restaurant. These bottom cleaners are out in force at night though and sometimes there will be quite a few of them all working on the same project.I was quite excited about seeing this guy, it's a Harpa amoretta, and it's the first time I've ever seen a live one. This picture is worth clicking on so you can get a better look. He has little tiny yellow dots all over his mantle and is quite colorful. I was surprised how fast this guy can move. Once I took the first picture, he didn't waste any time at all trying to find a better hiding spot, but I did manage to get in a good 20 shots or so before he completely escaped.I was just doing a broad scan over one of the coral lined walls in the Grotto when I saw this guy, it's a Cypraea Testudinaria, or a Pig or Tortoise Cowrie. I don't know whether I just have the magic touch when it comes to these guys or what, because I've talked with quite a few other divers who dive just as much as I do, and they have never seen a live specimen of this shell. This was the 2nd one I'd seen this past month, and I've probably seen about a half dozen of them in all. So while it's not a real common sighting, I have managed to see my share, and several other divers share as well evidently. In this shot he had his mantle fully covering the shell.Here is a shot of him with his mantle mostly retraced over half of the shell. You get a good idea of what it looks like. The pattern seems to be mostly a hodgepodge of dark blotches and some dark squares, and then it looks like it got a little too close to someone who was spray painting something white, as it has little white flecks all over it. It is truly a distinctive shell and a big one as it is typically 4-6" in length.This was the guy that got me most excited on this night dive though, it is a nudibranch that I didn't have any pictures of yet. I saw him on a night dive a week ago, but my camera had fogged up and I couldn't get a picture of him, so I was thrilled when I found another one and was able to get pictures of him. According to my friends on they have identified him as Pleuredhera haraldi. That adds one more to my nudibranch inventory for Saipan that have been positively identified. I know there are a lot more that I have yet to discover, but each and every additional one I find is exciting to me. This guy only comes out well after dark, and you're likely to find him crawling around on sponge covered rocks. And this little green moray eel was poking his head out of some of the rocks near the rope in the Grotto as I was looking for nudibranchs, I figured he was wanting his picture taken too. I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I included him as well.And finally I found this slipper lobster tucked into a little hole on the wall, surrounded by coral and sponge. He seemed quite comfortable and happy in his little spot, so I took a few pictures and let him get settled in for the night. I've had comments from people all over the world about seeing things on my blog they've never seen before and getting to enjoy an entirely different world. That is the entire purpose of this blog, I hope you continue to enjoy it!


Anonymous said...

I admire your underwater photos. Great shots

RWS Photo from Borneo

Anonymous said...

Some terrific shots Harry! As always, thanks for sharing.