Monday, September 11, 2006

Layang Layang Pics 4: Fish

South East Asia boasts of an enormous variety of fish, corals and other sea creatures due to its unique geography of warm, shallow waters and countless island archipelagoes which form coral havens and mangrove swamps that act as shelters for various species of juvenile fish from predators.

Everywhere you look, there are a multitude of fish, soft corals, hard corals, crustasceans, sponges.... the list goes on and on. If you know where to look for them. The name of the game here is camouflage for beneath the deceivingly tranquil blue waters lies a world as vicious as the gladiatorial arena of ancient Rome - kill or be killed.

In order to protect itself from predators, a lot of sea creatures resort to camouflage using biology and tricks of light resulting in a wonderous and spectacular array of body shapes, behaviour and physiology that one would previously think belongs to the world of science fiction.

One of my favourite activites while diving is snapping pictures of fish that I've never seen before and then referring to the fish charts and pictorials to find out what group and species they belong to. Like this one. Usually more common in Carribean waters, this is a juvenile Picasso Trigger fish and is one of the most aggressive types of fish. Trigger fish is very territorial and will not hesitate to attack anything or anyone who wanders too close to its nesting grounds.

Usually most of the fish can be found in the shallow sun drenched waters between 5 - 15 feet deep. Here one can see colourful coral gardens as far as the eyes can see and where there's corals, there will be fish, seeking food and shelter. Like this very common sight - a lone racoon anglefish, probably looking for its mate.

Sometimes, you need to just stop at seemingly featureless coral mounds for a while before your eyes triumphs over this leaf fishes' attempt at camouflage.

Perhaps one of the most unsightly fishes you could ever find in these waters is the puffer fish aka blowfish aka fugu on the sushi table. Whether its in its puffed-up spine ridden form or in this unprovoked mild mannered disguise, it still is one really ugly fish.

Ah, looks can be so deceiving. This beautiful red lionfish is as beguiling to hold as it is poisonous. While it probably won't kill a human being, the poison found in its long flowing tentacle-like fins is strong enough to immobalise predators twice as large as itself within a matter of seconds... giving it time to plot an course of escape.

The scorpionfish pictured above doesn't really move much. It doesn't have to. Like the lionfish , it too has poison up its fins and after creating a false sense of security by blending perfectly into its surroundings, the scorpionfish uses it to stun its prey in lightning fast strikes. Blink and you'll miss it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pictures from Bangkok leh :D