Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cool Critters at Wing Beach

Wing Beach is absolutely my favorite dive on Saipan, part of it might be that I can only dive it for a very short window every year, but I think it has more to do with the diversity of sea life that I find there, and yes, even George. The thing Wing Beach is best known for though is lionfish, they are everywhere there if you know where to look. This giant red lionfish was just floating along on the currents in the trench when we first started heading out. Obviously this one is a female, she looks like that belly is about to burst with baby lionfish. And I've been seeing a fair number of very, very tiny lionfish there lately as well, so that's a very good sign.And before I had gone too far down the trench, I came across this flounder trying to blend in and camouflage himself. This flat fish has the ability to change the color of his skin to better match whatever he's laying on to try hiding, much like an octopus. Both of their eyes are on the top of the body, and he will use the dorsal fin on the top like a rudder to steer him as he swims. I'll be putting up a video I took of a couple of them tomorrow so you'll see what I'm talking about.One of the keys to being a successful underwater photographer is training your dive buddies to keep an eye out for certain things. I've got Barry looking for nudibranchs for me now, and he seems to be finding more than I do these days. He spotted this Phyllidiella annulata for me in the crevasse at Wing Beach.I love taking shots of crinoids, especially at Wing Beach because you can get them with outstanding shades of blue in the background. This one is hanging down off the monument rock at the cliff side of the crevasse. That seems to be a home to dozens of crinoids, I'm guessing because there is always a pretty good current cutting around it, therefore bringing plenty of food by for the crinoids to feed on.I was also glad to see that this little colony of Plerogyra sinuosa, or bubble coral is still doing well and looking good. This makes an awesome picture to blow up and print, not only because of all the colors, but because of the intricate designs on the individual bubble sacks.I always enjoy visiting these 3 banded anemonefish that hang out in the anemone on the side of the underwater cliff line. They aren't quite as brightly colored as some of their counterparts, but they're still very cool looking. These guys also aren't quite as agressive as some of the others, which will come out and attack you if you get too close. They just bury themselves down in the anemone, like good little anemonefish should.Another very colorful yellow crinoid all curled up, most likely taking a nap. You see a lot of crinoids at the Grotto & Wing Beach and vew few of them at Lau Lau or Obiyan. I'm not quite sure why that is, but it is a trend that I've noticed.This is a bigger, and more brightly colored flounder that I found toward the end of the dive. I shot some video of this guy swimming around as well, if you get sick watching the video tomorrow, you can start to begin how I felt swimming around in circles trying to keep the camera on him and only looking at the viewfinder on the camera as I swam.And I found this baby lionfish toward the end of the dive, I love finding them this small, they just look so cool. This guy might have been 2" long, but not much bigger than that. They are very easy to miss at that size, but still have very potent poison, so you really need to watch out for them.Barry pointed out these tiny little fish to me as I was shooting the baby lionfish. This is the juvenile form of a fish, but I don't know which one right off the bat. They are very cool looking though with those bright orange blotches and well defined black circles on their backs.And finally as I was heading toward the rope, I noticed this little colony of snakeshead cowries all tucked into the crack of this rock. There were 4 of them tucked into that one little spot, very cool way to end the dive. I hope you enjoyed Wing Beach, although I know there's no way you could have enjoyed it nearly as much as I did!

1 comment:

The Beachcomber said...

Cool pics as usual, Harry! I've kept a few lionfishes when I was younger and that swollen belly maybe its latest meal! I love those tiny wrasses: Twin spot wrasse (Coris aygula)or Clown coris. Keep sharing for I miss the water.