The Philippines had a strong appearance at this year’s DEMA show in Las Vegas. Spearheaded by Tourism Attaché Mary Anne Cuevas of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippines had the second largest booth of all participants at the DEMA 2012.
The Philippine Dive Team not only provided great choices of diving destinations in the Philippines but also offered the participants and underwater photographers magnificent opportunities to experience the country’s underwater plethora of wonders and diverse eco systems.
Mike and Joe Ann represented our Beach Resort with the Adventure Dive Shop in Dauin and Dumaguete and provided very valuable information to dive operators and travel Pro’s from all over the world about our unique location in the central Visayas. Working as a team ensured, that we were not only present at the Philippine booth during opening hours, but also gave the opportunities to visit other exhibitors, strengthen old and establish valuable new contacts.
The DEMA 2012 was with over 10,000 attendees one of the most successful in its history, it also manifested the Philippine as a prime SCUBA dive destination in the world.
The Clown triggerfish is a type of triggerfish belonging to the Balistidae family. They are also known as the Big-spotted Triggerfish due to the big spots on its body. It may be seen in the tropical Indo-Pacific: East Africa south to Durban, South Africa and east through Indonesia to Samoa, north to southern Japan and south to New Caledonia. In Australia Clown triggerfish is known to be seen from the offshore reefs of north-western Western Australia and from the northern Great Barrier Reef to northern New South Wales. The Clown triggerfish is rare and uncommon all over its range.
This solitary fish is most commonly described to have a unique coloration. It is described to be dark brown in color with large white spots the lower side of its body. There is also a yellow patch found below its dorsal fin which also has spots as well as a broad white band running across its snout and below its eyes. Another significant description of the Clown triggerfish is its white ringed, yellow mouth which labeled this fish as “Clown”. This triggerfish can grow to a maximum of 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) in length.
The Clown triggerfish may be seen inhabiting clear coastal waters 1-75 meters in depth (3-250 feet) to outer reef habitats. They can also be found in clear seaward reefs adjacent to steep drop-offs. Adult Clown Triggerfish is usually observed along deep drop-offs while juveniles are quite privately hidden in small caves and crevices below 25 meters (82 feet) with rich invertebrate growing.
They are aggressive in nature and thrive on sea urchins, crabs and other crustaceans, mollusks, and tunicates. They are equipped with strong jaws that help them crush and eat their hard-shelled meals. Being predators and maybe at times prey to bigger fishes, they are quite skilled in camouflaging. Their yellow mouths are shown to scare of potential predators while the white spots below their bodies would look like surface of the water when seen below. Also, when seen from above the triggerfish’s top part would look like coral reefs making their countershading camouflage a lot effective.
In our waters they can be spotted occasionally along the deeper slopes of Apo Island and at Paliton Wall in Siquijor.
The Blue Ringed Octopuses (genus Hapalochlaena) are a family of 3 different species of octopus which all share the defining characteristic of bright blue rings. The Blue Ringed Octopus is the most venomous octopus as well as one of the most venomous marine animals there is. They live mainly in the Pacific and Indian oceans, centered on the area from Japan to Australia.
The Blue Ringed Octopus features yellowish colored skin that is dotted with bold blue and black rings when they are under stress. They are relatively small, only about 8 inches and that is with their tentacles spread wide. It likes to live in warm, shallow reefs found near coastal areas. During the day it hunts its prey which includes small crustaceans and wounded fish. It will find a hiding place and catch its prey with its tentacles and kills it using its poisonous saliva.
The poison contained in the saliva of the Blue Ringed Octopus is a neurotoxin that is capable of killing a human being. The poison is 10,000 times more toxic than cyanide and causes paralysis and respiratory arrest leading to cardiac arrest within minutes of exposure. Like other octopuses, it makes it home in small holes found under rocks or in the sea floor and will even dig its own holes underneath large rocks if necessary. It is quite intelligent and will move rocks into a pile to block the entrance to the front of its den. The Blue Ringed Octopus also has a method to escape from predators which involves squirting black ink in the water to obscure the predator’s vision.
Not a common sight at the dive sites in Dauin, they are still spotted on a regular basis.
Found from the Red Sea, Hawaii, East Africa and most parts of the Indo-Pacific water regions (Pacific and Indian Ocean), the Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) is a warm-water, reef-associated ocean fish species and one of more than 50 angelfish species around the world. Also commonly known as Imperial Angel and Imperator Angel, it is one of the most popularreff fish. Pomacanthus imperator has not been assessed for the IUCN (Red List of Threatened Species).
Extremely colorful as juvenile and adults, they sport a dark blue body with amazing semi-circular stripes (blue and white color) when juvenile. As adults they have a different set of color (usually yellow & blue horizontal stripes), with a thick black band and blue outline around their eyes. Adult coloring is usually achieved by an emperor angelfish after about 24 to 30 months, during which they grow to as large as 15.75 inches (40 cm) in length. The spine-covered first gill is one of its distinctive trait from the similar looking butterfly fish.
Being a reef-associated species, juveniles are inclined to stay on hiding below ledges, semi-protected areas, or inside reef holes. Adults are usually found in areas with extensive algae growth on channels or seaward reefs. Adult emperor angelfish like juveniles prefer to take shelter in caves and under ledges. A female adult Emperor Angelfish reproduces by laying hundreds of eggs. It usually finds a mate which is believed it forms a lifelong partnership with. This species is semi-aggressive and highly territorial towards members of same and other angelfish species. Unlike most species of Angelfish which are herbivores (plant-eaters), Emperor angelfish is an omnivore who prefer to eat coral heads, crustaceans (like shrimp and shellfish), and small invertebrates (like worms and sponges). Their beak-like jaws enable them to crush hard-shelled prey.
While not very common here, the Emperor Angelfish can be spotted occasionally around the sloping reefs of Dauin and the drop offs in around Apo Island.
Banded Coral Shrimp are decapod crustaceans belonging to the Stenopodidae family. They are also known as barber pole shrimp and coral banded shrimp because of their coloration as well as banded cleaner shrimp as they are one of the three families linked with cleaning fishes. They can be seen in the shallow tropical waters of the Indo- Pacific region from the Red Sea and South Africa to the Hawaiian and Tuamotu Islands and western Atlantic from Canada to Brazil though they may not be found in the eastern Atlantic. Banded Coral Shrimps can also be found in the tropical waters in the western Atlantic from Bermuda and off the coast of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and Southern Florida. There are also some seen in Sydney, Australia as well as New Zealand
The Banded Coral Shrimps are the largest known cleaner shrimps. They may reach a maximum of 75 mm (2.95 in) in length though their female kind may grow to be larger than the males. They have bodies found to have red bands supported by bluish legs and slender red and white claws while their antennae are of white colors. Their abdomens along with two other parts of their bodies are covered in spines. These cleaner shrimps utilize their white antennae to gain attention from passing fishes which may be in need of cleaning. They have three pairs of claws which they use to remove and eat parasites, fungi, undesirable food particles and injured tissue from the various water species they clean. At night, these shrimps utilize their antennae as sensors for navigation.
They are most often found past low tide line. Banded Coral Shrimps construct their homes in rock crevices, in undercut mats of rhizomes of the turtle grass Thalassia, in disregarded man-made objects such as buckets and tires. Our divers always enjoy watching them at the Car Wrecks in Dauin. These shrimps, like other kinds of cleaner shrimps are recorded to be very territorial. Banded Coral Shrimps are found in pairs which are noted to mate for a lifetime.
There are no known natural predators for the Banded Coral Shrimp. These shrimps have developed a good relationship with other reef creatures to the extent that they can go in and out of the fishes’ mouth without being eaten or digested. That said they are still not immuned to predation as they can be the last resort of the really hungry predators.
The Threadfin Hawkfish, also known as the Spotted Hawkfish is a member of the Cirrhitidae family. This family of fish includes over 30 different species which are found throughout then world’s oceans. Threadfin Hawkfish are most commonly found in the Western Indian Ocean as well as in the Western Pacific. They usually travel either alone or in pairs and, though more uncommonly, can also be found in small groups in the rocky and coral areas of coastal reefs.
Threadfin Hawkfish are small, spotted fish which can range in size from 1 inch to 4 inches. Since they generally live near coral, they can be found at depths from around 5 to 40 meters deep. They feature a color scheme of white and orangey brown that acts as camouflage allowing them to blend in easily with their surroundings. Threadfins mostly feed on smaller fish and invertebrates.
Hawkfish are named so because of their hunting method which involved them sitting perfectly still on the reef until swooping to catch their pray when it swims by. They lack a swim bladder, an internal gas-filled organ that aids the fish in controlling its buoyancy. Without this organ, the Hawkfish will sink to lower depths unless it keeps on the move. For this reason they will spend most of their time perched on a piece of rock or coral. Pieces of coral that closely match the colors and patterns of the Hawkfish are especially preferred as they allow the Hawkfish to easily blend in.
While many diver looking for critters and nudibranchs when diving with us, this lovely creature almost remains unnoticed. As you can see on the picture above, the Threadfin Hawkfish is certainly worth a closer look.
The Ribbon Eel, Rhinomuraena quaesita, also called Bernis eel, is another favaorite of our guests, it is only specie of genus Rhinomuraena of Muraenidae family. It is the combination of the former Rhinomuraena ambionensis (black ribbon eels) and Rhinomuraena quaesita (blue ribbon eels), which is now recognized as a single species. The ribbon eels can be found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. In wild, they like to bury themselves in sand or hides in spaces between reefs or rocks, dashing for prey, be it small fish or shrimp, if one crosses its sight.
The ribbon eel grows up to around 36 inches, approximately 100 centimeters, and can live up to 20 years. This creature is the only specie in the Muraenidae family that is classified to be protandric, or having male sexual organs when young and later develops female sexual organs, literally changing its sexes. Its color also varies with its age and sex, younger male ones are colored black turning blue over the years as it grows, but its dorsal fins remain yellow in color. The female ones have yellow body and a black anal fin with margins of white on the fins. The creature can easily be recognized by its anterior nostrils being greatly expanded.
The ribbon eel is a magnificent creature with long, thin body and dorsal fins. Like most of the eels, the ribbon eel is sometimes mistaken to be aggressive or angry because of its habit of opening its mouth, appearing like its ready to strike. But in reality, the creature is just breathing.
We find Ribbon Eels in Apo Island and Siquijor in a depth suitable for Open Water Diver.
Today in Mikes Aquarium one of our guests favorites. Famous since “Finding Nemo”, clownfish get always attention. The saddleback anemonefish is not exactly a clownfish, but his bravery does not fall back behind the original.
The saddleback anemonefish, Amphiprion polymnus, member of the family Pomacentridae, is also known as the saddleback clownfish. This creature is widely distributed in the Western Pacific: Ryukyu Islands, Viet Nam, Indonesia, China, Gulf of Thailand, Philippines, Australia, New Guinea, Taiwan, New Britain, and Solomon Islands. It can also be found at the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean. Like any other clownfishes, they are observed to live with a symbiotic relationship with an anemone, mostly the Saddle carpet anemone or the Sebae anemone, for its protection.
It can reach a length of about 4.6 inches at maximum and is considered omnivore since it eats small crustaceans and algae. Its color may vary from yellow orange to dark brown with a thick white bar behind its eyes. Its name originated from the slanted or saddle shaped white bar across the middle section of the body of the fish. In some of this fish’s variety, the saddle shape can extend to the Dorsal fin of the fish with a margin or white bar crossing its caudal peduncle. Studies show that the color of the fish is somehow related to the host anemone.
The saddleback anemonefish is found around the car-wrecks and on sandy slopes close to the reefs in 10 – 20 meters. He is famous with underwater photographers as porcelaincrabs and cleaner shrimps are also found in the host-anemone.