First of all about the beauty: Crown of Thorns juveniles are really handsome in their own spiky-snowflake way. They develop spines and begin to feed on coral only about one year of age, drifting as planktonic larval before that age. Getting bigger and bigger they are gaining more and more brutality and spike length.
Adult Crown of Thorns can grow up to a huge size – more than metre in diameter! A few interesting facts:
– Crown of Thorns are a natural part of the coral reef ecosystem. An increase in their numbers only occurs when the reef is unhealthy.
– In healthy reefs Crown of Thorns are playing a positive role by eating some of the faster-growing corals and giving the slower-growing corals a chance.
– Adult Crown of Thorns can survive without feeding for up to nine months. The normal lifespan of a Crown of Thorns is about four or so years.
Lacy scorpionfish, Rhinopias aphanes holds top position on the bucket list of many underwater photographers. You can not find this fish visiting regular diving destinations like Anilao or Lembeh, you’d add some adventure (and money) and visit Papua New Guinea, Australia or New Caledonia.
Usually they are found on offshore reefs, not deep, sitting motionlessly in ambush near crinoid, perfectly matching with surrounds. You are lucky if you managed to get a small collection of differently coloured Lacy – Golden, Grey, Greenish, Red.
The family Harpidae comprises elegant marine gastropods with shell, resembling the strings of a harp. They are nocturnal hunters, hiding in the sand during the day and feeding on crabs and shrimps at night. The prey is enveloped by the foot and mucus, then saliva containing digestive enzymes is injected. Finally, partly digested crab is sucked out by the mollusc.
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It is always nice to look at someone’s work, especially when it is done with endless enthusiasm. Our shrimp lives in burrows with Cryptocentrus gobies (Y-bar Shrimp Goby, Cryptocentrus fasciatus in our case). The shrimp digs and maintains the burrows. With a soft sand bottom, it is easier to dig a home than to maintain it. Watch this video and you will understand why!
Pseudoceros imitatus (Mimic Flatworm), one of my favourite flatworms, mimic Phyllidiella pustulosa (Pimpled Phyllidiella), very common toxic nudibranch. Phyllidiella can emit very toxic substances on the skin, extracting them from the sponges it feeds on. Our flatworm unfairly enjoys poisonous fame, avoided by predators!
Can you tell flatworm from nudibranch on this photo?