In the last few months we’ve been very lucky and have had an extraordinary number of coconut octopuses (Amphioctopus marginatus) on dives in Lembeh. These intelligent critters are the only mollusk known to use tools, and everyone who sees them agrees they have the most fascinating behaviour! Other awesome sightings included harlequin shrimp, hairy frogfishes galore and the rare magnificent shrimp goby with its sail-like dorsal fin and dapper red-and-white partner shrimp. We hope you enjoy the video as much as we do!
It’s hard to believe such a beautiful species as the mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus) can be so cut-throat when it comes to territorial battles, but make no mistake, these guys don’t mess around when another male comes in to try and muscle in on their harem. Finally the ‘sheriff’ makes an entrance at the end and breaks up the dirty fight!
We guarantee you have never before seen some of the crazy critter action featured in this week’s video; have you ever seen a video close up of the eye of an elegant sand diver? No? What about this eye with a shrimp on it? Didn’t think so. This and many more bizarre and beautiful surprises in this will make you wish you were here. What was your favorite part?
In part I of this series, we saw a newly hatched flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) getting snatched up by a small mantis shrimp, a surprising choice of meals since they are widely (but perhaps wrongly) believed to be toxic. In this latest episode II, we see a reversal of roles when an adult flamboyant cuttlefish snatches a mantis shrimp to feed on, so it’s not always predictable who is the hunter and who is the prey between these 2 species! The slow-motion part of this underwater video shows in amazing detail how the flamboyant carefully extends its two feeding arms, then at lightning speed grabs its prey and grips the mantis with its suckers, waiting until the mantis tires before consuming her crispy crustacean meal.
Flamboyant Cuttlefishes have the reputation of being highly toxic, but newer studies show that it might not be true and more research has to be done. Unfortunately the action in this video was so fast and unexpected, that I could not see what happened after the attack.
This time of year often brings slightly cooler water temperatures in Lembeh and to our delight, we’ve noticed many more baby frogfishes are around than normal. Coincidence? We think not! Some of these ultra-cute froggies are in this video as well as footage of rare nudis like the Phyllodesmium koehleri and one of the weirdest, most unusual critters we’ve ever seen – a bizarre polychaete worm (Diopatra Sp.) that looks like a cross between a bobbit worm and a furry-legged bristle worm! Enjoy this up-to-the-minute glimpse of what’s going on in Lembeh.
Many know these adorable little sap-sucking slugs (technically not nudibranchs) as ‘Shaun the Sheep’, due to their resemblance to sheep grazing on grass. They are tiny (from just a millimeter up to about 12 millimeters maximum length) and can be found feeding on the host algae Avrainvillea spp which looks like a large, single, round green leaf which sticks up vertically out of the sand on Lembeh’s muck sites. They are members of the Sacoglossa family which is the only group of animals known to engage in kleptoplasty, a process where the sea slug stores chloroplasts from the algae it feeds on in its body and benefits from the food they produce via photosynthesis. In this detailed, close-up footage you can actually see the chloroplasts in the animals’ cerata (the pointy bits on the back), impossible to observe with the naked eye due to the creatures’ tiny size. Enjoy this detailed video showcasing a cute and also fascinating Lembeh critter and be sure to have a look to try and find some yourself next time you dive in Lembeh!
After testing the SONY FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS extensively (I did over 200 dives with this lens already), I have to say - it's a pretty good setup for Lembeh! It gives me the flexibility of shooting a wide range of subjects and I'm not stuck with a macro or a wide-angle setup. I can shoot critters that are very small - I cannot fill the frame with a hairy shrimp, but when using an extra macro wet-lens (like the SubSee +5 or Nauticam SMC), I can fill the frame with subjects the size of around 1-2cm (around 1/2 inch) in Super35 mode. When shooting in full frame mode @24mm I get vignetting from the flat port, but I can shoot at the 32mm range of the lens without vignetting and shoot subjects the size of around 30 cm (1 foot) right in front of the port (I'm using a Subal Type4 flat port on a Nauticam NA-A7II housing with a Nauticam to Subal adapter).
I used the Nauticam SMC only for subjects smaller than 3cm (1 inch), for subjects between 3-8cm (1-3 inches) I used the SubSee +5 and everything larger than 8cm (3 inches) I was able to shoot without having to add an extra wet-lens.
Here are some example shots:
The 24-70 is very sharp - even at smaller apertures.
Here are some Lightroom screenshots:
Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) @42mm, f14, 1/60sec, ISO250
Same image like above at 100%
Here's a shot @31mm - on the top left the port is still visible, that's why in full frame mode the lens has to be at @32mm (at least with my setup)
Here's a short video shot with the A7R2 and the SONY FE 24-70mm f/4, for best viewing experience watch in 4K:
When shooting video I also use the Clear Image Zoom function of the A7R II - then I can shoot very small stuff like the Costasiella kuroshimae, also known as the "Shaun the sheep nudi" with the 24-70mm lens (with an additional Nauticam SMC) and I can fill the frame @70mm in Super35 mode with subjects smaller than 1cm in size - pretty amazing! 🙂
Don't get me wrong, I still use other lenses and the 90mm macro is a "must have" lens in Lembeh, but the 24-70 is also a very nice lens for shooting macro and even super macro in the Lembeh Strait (when combined with a flat port).
This test was done while diving with Critters@Lembeh Resort.
This episode features some of the highlights of July, including a lot of baby frogfishes, oodles of nudibranchs (including the Melibe colemani) and some awesome cephalopods like the wunderpus and flamboyant cuttlefish. The king of photogenic fishes, the weedy scorpionfish (aka ‘Rhinopias frondosa’), also makes an appearance in some moody and dramatic lighting. Enjoy the dive!
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Here’s a short video of a strong Lightroom edit to show you what Lightroom is capable of…(not to suggest that you have to do edit your images like this, this is only an example!)