Marine Life

Lion Fish

Fire Fish Portrait - Similan IslandsThe Lion fish is without doubt one of the most striking looking fish on any reef, including the reefs in Thailand. As they glide gently about in shallow waters, you would think that butter would not melt in its mouth. At second glance however, underneath all those beautiful markings and symmetric fins lies one of the most aggressive predators pound for pound in the oceans today.

Lion fish do actually belong to the Scorpion fish family, and that name alone must tell you something about this fish. They have a distinctive look to them, their coloring is normally brown, white stripes though here in Thailand we have Black ones too, these specimens tend to be little smaller than the Common Lion fish.

You will find small protruding tentacles above their eyes and also underneath their mouths, the fins on the side of the body (pectoral fins) are long and wispy. They have 13 dorsal spines with other 10 or 11 lateral spines; they also have 3 anal spines.

The adult Lion fish can grow quite large, especially where there is an abundant food source, such as an old wreck -where juvenile fish are born and bred. In fact, any artificial reef or nursery will house some magnificent Lion fish specimens.

They much prefer the warmer tropical waters (Thailand’s Andaman Sea), in the Indian Pacific and Atlantic oceans; they tend to stay around reefs, which means they are shallow water dwellers, however, specimens have been found as deep as 300 meters down.

Lion fish are quite a popular aquarium fish until they grow so big that they tend to eat all the other fish in the tank. This behavior has led many fish being released back into the wild; and even in waters where they would not normally be found, such as the cooler waters around the United States.

Carmen with Lion Fish - Diving Similan IslandsThese fish have created a problem, as they have such a voracious appetite they tend to eat almost any smaller sized fish than itself. I have met many divers form the United States, many whom dive in the east coast waters and have complain about these fish growing very large and eating all the smaller fry. I guess this is what happens when man interferes in nature.

The spines of the Lion fish are extremely poisonous and will deliver a venomous sting to anything foolish or clumsy enough to tangle with it. The pain can be excruciating, it can cause extreme swelling, respiratory problems as well as paralysis, the young and aged are more at risk if stung.

Their venom is a combination of protein, a neuromuscular toxin and a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine all sounds very nasty and it is, just be careful out there, especially where you put your hands. If stung by a lion fish the patient must seek medical attention immediately. Warning these fish are dangerous, they can lay under ledges out of the sight of the diver.

Lion fish are normally a solitary creatures, however they can be found in small groups, these groups will usually consist of a large male and several females (a lion fish harem, if you like) that he will mate with. He is particularly aggressive of his territory and will protect his area.

The female lion fish, during mating, will release several thousands of eggs, maybe as many as 15000 at any one time, then the eggs will be fertilized by the male. The eggs will then float away on the ocean currents for a only a couple of days before the baby lion fish hatch. Once hatched, the young fry will stay close to the surface until they are large enough to defend themselves. Then they will swim down to join the nearest reef community.

Marine Life

Blue Spotted Stingray

Bluespotted Stingray swimming into the dark The Blue Spotted Stingray or Kuhl’s stingray as it is also called – depending on where you dive I guess- is a member of the stingray family and the stingray species is also a distant relative of the Shark family, as they both have a skeletons made from cartilage.

These fascinating fish can usually be found down on the sandy bottom just off the reef, so when diving near bottom, it is a good idea if you are so inclined, to venture a little way from the reef, and you might indeed find several lying waiting for their prey.

Being the opportunistic feeders that they are they can be quite difficult to spot. I usually look for a tail sticking out of the sand, as their tails have a black and white band around them, this does give them away, but you must look very closely indeed.

These rays, like I have previously mentioned love nothing more than to bury just underneath the sand. They are also found around rocky areas, as well as coral rubble, they also tend to be near old wrecks and are can be found at around 20-25m deep.

These rays typically feed on crabs, lobsters, small fish, mollusks, octopus and worms. Most reefs have an ample food supply to support quite a few of these rays. The Blue Spotted Stingray does not have teeth like many fish; it does have bony plates in its mouth, which it uses to crush its victims, after it has over powered them and pinned them to the bottom.

Blue spotted StingrayBlue Spotted Stingray have a long tails which half way down house two venomous spines. The tail is usually about twice the length of the body of the fish. The spines or barbs as they are really called are two different sizes, one being larger than the other.

This stingray has bright yellow eyes and they are positioned in such a way that they have an excellent field of view and can see from almost every direction possible. Like sharks, they have spiracles; these spiracles allow them to draw in oxygenated water and are located right behind the ray’s eyes.

If you were able to flip the ray over onto its back (not recommended) then you would see its mouth and gills. These particular rays tend to live alone, however not much is known about these fish after dark in the wild.

Blue spotted rays give birth to live young while they are inside the womb, the embryo is well nourished by the yolk and these eggs are retained by the female until they hatch. The blue spotted ray can produce around seven live young in every litter.

All Blue Spotted Stingray juveniles are born with the distinctive blue markings of its parents. When they are ready to mate the male ray will follow the female with his acutely sensitive nose close to her cloaca, he does this all the while waiting for a sign to tell him that she is now ready to mate.

The actual courtship (like many other rays and sharks) typically includes some sort of biting and grabbing of the main body of the fish. The teeth of the male are used to hold the female in place during copulation. The male fertilizes the female via internal fertilization through the use of their claspers, again as with all other members of this species. The gestation can be anywhere from 4 months to a year. It is recommended to give members of this classification a wide birth if you think that they maybe mating, they might not like to be disturbed.

Marine Life

Titan Trigger fish

Titan Trigger Fish searching SandThe Titan Trigger fish is the largest member of the Trigger fish family; they can reach almost a meter in length. This fish is disc shaped and is packed with solid muscle. The Titan usually is seen during the day while diving in Thailand, feeding on sea urchins, hard Corals, crustaceans and tube worms. They get their name from the dorsal fin which it points up whenever it is threatened or when it is sleeping, it then locks itself in between the rocks and crevices for safety.

These strange behaving fish are seen on almost every reef dive in Thailand, they are quite easy to spot too. They feed by blowing water into the sand, removing old pieces of coral from the sand and chomping on it, looking for hidden worms. They are usually followed by a small group of other fish like wrasse and other smaller fish, who hope to take advantage of the titan’s feeding maneuvers.

The Titan Trigger Fish coloration is a dirty yellow body, rimmed by black around its relatively small fins. Its eyes can move around independently from one another, they actually look like they have veins in the eyes. They will feed stood on their heads while chomping at anything that they think will offer food.

They love nothing better to get their teeth into the long spiny sea urchins that litter the bottom of many dive site here in Thailand. If you have ever touched one of these sea urchins, you will know just how sharp their spines are, they are just like hypodermic needles. This does not bother the trigger in the slightest. And once they have chosen their target nothing will stop it from its goal, nothing.

Titan Trigger Fish, Cleaner Wrasse Normally they do not care too much about divers, unless you get too close to them when they are feeding, they will spin their eyes at you, either carry on chomping on the delicate reef or just swim away. They are a solitary fish, but on the odd occasion you may see a couple of them together. Possibly just before or after mating. If a smaller trigger fish comes into its territory it will vigorously chase it away.

As mentioned, Titan Trigger Fish tend not to be too bothered around divers unless, and this is a big unless, they are sat on their nest guarding their young, then its hammer-time. Titan Triggers will chase anything out of its area; absolutely anything. They have no fear when it comes to defending their area.

Their nests are built on the sandy bottom, usually made up of odd pieces of dead coral and small rocks. Once built, they sit directly over the nest and the territory above is their domain. Anything that comes near it will be attacked.

Many scuba divers do come a cropper with these crazy fish, the last thing on a divers mind is to rummage around a Titans’ nest, but the Titan does not see it that way. There domain is, if you like, an inverted cone stretching to the surface.

I have been attacked several times once or twice by two of these mad fish at the same time, they tend to nest close to each other, so be wary, stay behind the Divemaster and let him deal with them is my advice.

Titan trigger fish fertilize their eggs externally in their new nest, during their courtship, they will do a mating dance before copulation. Once the eggs have been laid and fertilized the female will guard the nest with her life, they normally spawned for a few days most months and once the small titans have hatched they will make a break for it towards the sanctity of the nearest reef. Here they will live of tiny zooplankton until they are large enough to chomp on the reef and abuse divers themselves.

Marine Life

Tiger Tail Sea Horse

The Tiger Tail Sea Horse is one of the most sort after creatures we have here in Thailand, especially on the boats that dive the Similan Islands and Phi Phi islands. They can be torturous to find, ask any dive guide. Rarely moving from their hangout, you see it’s the movement of the animal which makes it easier for us to find them.

The Tiger Tail are fantastic at camouflage, they have to be otherwise they would surely be eaten in seconds by the predators on the reef. Seahorses in general do have a certain similarity to the horse’s we find on land, the head being similar to a traditional horse but that is it.

The Tiger Tail usually has a yellow body and on its tail, which it uses to hold its self in place on the reef has the faint black stripes that have likened it to a tiger stripes. Again, that is the only similarity between the two animals.

Recently I saw, on a dive site called Koh Doc Mai, a darker than normal juvenile, it was about half the size of an adult, I was very pleased.

No longer than about 12 cm in length, it is classed as a fish; however they are quite unlike most fish, as it does lack scales. Its head is set an angle to its body. Its mouth is at the end of a relatively long snout which it uses with great effect at drawing its tiny food particles. Its diet is tiny fish, plankton and small shrimp and maybe even some little coral polyps.

They have several fins. The dorsal fin is used for swimming, they seem to just fly along when they move, they also have ear like pectoral fins, which they use to guide them and also for stabilisation. The young tiger tail also has, unlike other species of seahorse, a small caudal fin (tail fin) which it loses when it reaches maturity.

They are able to change their colouring and they can even grow another layer of skin filaments if it will help them blend in better with their background. They can also change colour quickly, depending of course on its mood. Rapid colour changes can happen when the seahorse is, for example, ready to mate.

As previously mentioned, the tiger tail is normally yellow in its body, but sometimes, it is quite possible to a find black one or even dark brown one too. The stripes which are on its tail, are not always visible and the actual colour of the animal can vary over time as it gets older.

These sea horses are typically found in pairs, they like to hang out in quiet areas of the coral reefs, liking either the hard of soft corals which they can hang on to. The seahorse is quite unique in the fact that the male carries the eggs after fertilisation in a pouch similar to a kangaroo pouch. It is possible for them to produce upwards of over 1500 young or more at any one time. The gestation period normally lasts about 4 weeks.

They are threatened due to the excessive abuse form the Asian market. The Chinese believe that they have a medicinal purpose, which has yet to be proved. Upwards of nearly twenty millions of these poor defence less creatures are sold each year. However, recent times have seen much tighter control over the sale of these wonderful peaceful creatures.

Marine Life

Hawksbill Turtle – Marine Life in Thailand

Hawksbill Turtle – Marine Life in Thailand
Turtle Grass

Hawksbill Turtle – Hawksbill’s are the most common species of Turtle we see in Thai waters’, usually spotted on shallow reefs where diving is quite common. They have been giving the name Hawksbill because of its hawk like beak.

Hawksbill Turtles are a threatened species and despite their protection they are still hunted for their meat and shell, which make souvenirs for the ignorant to take home.

Within the last century alone, the species has decline almost 80 per cent, with many of their breeding grounds been turned into hotel complexes and their eggs stolen by unscrupulous people out to make a quick buck.

Accurately assessing the breeding patterns and overall population is not so easy, though a recent estimate found around 800 females nesting, with the largest breeding ground being in Queensland, Australia.

Though here in Thailand there are several islands in the Similans group which have been closed to divers for well over a decade to help these wonderful creatures breed in private.

After a tagging program it was found that the Hawksbill turtle can travel long distances in order to mate, prior to this tagging program, they were thought to be less migratory than there other cousins.

Hawksbills are not as big as some turtle’s reaching no more than a metre in length weighing not much than 50 kilos. Their coloration is often a streaked shell of marble and amber, with touches of yellows, greens and brown too.

Hawkbill’s have a varied diet; they can often be seen on dives clambering over soft and hard coral indiscriminately to get their chops on bubble coral which they love. They will also eat small invertebrates that they find, they will also eat terrestrial food like bananas and other fallen fruit they find on beaches.

Another reason why these poor turtles are so threatened is due to their sexual maturity which does come until they are in their early thirty’s. Newly born turtles can spend up to the first ten years of their life on the open current. During this oceanic phase, the turtle is susceptible to predators like sharks, whales and even marine birds.

They are notoriously slow developers; another obvious problem for the turtle is that once they are born they are buried on beaches until they hatch. The sex of the turtle is determined by the surrounding temperatures, the warmer the more likely that females will be born.

They will lay several hundred eggs on a beach, and there will be seldom more than a few hundred nests in any particular area, once they have hatch these tiny little turtles have to then make a mad dash for the open ocean. Where waiting for them are some of the fiercest predators around. Mortality rates amongst baby turtles is extremely high

Hawksbills tend to nest every two or three years and they can lay around anything up to three hundred eggs in one sitting. It’s obvious that this beautiful creature needs help to survive, let’s just hope, that the help that they are now receiving has not come too late.

Hawksbill Turtle Image Gallery

Marine Life

Nudibranch – Marine Life in Thailand

Nudibranch – Marine Life in Thailand
Nudibranch – Marine Life in Thailand

Nudibranch’s have many other names to differentiate the vast amount of species in this group of fascinating and most colourful little creature on the reef. Varying in size form almost microscopic to as big as a grown man’s fist,

Nudibranch’s are probably the most photographed none fish on Thailands reefs today.

Due to their slow moving nature and absolutely fabulous colouration these gastropods make excellent models for amateur and professional camera wielding divers alike.

These gastropods also include sea snails, sea slugs and sea hares in their classification and there are actually well over 40, 000 species of gastropods, with more being found every year. They eat using a radula, which has teeth and can be used to gather food into its mouth.

The word itself comes of course from the Latin source, Nudus. Nudus means naked and is combined with Greek word Branchia, which means gills. You may also notice that they have several tentacles on their heads. These tentacles help them feel, taste and smell their way around their reefs.

These tentacles can actually be a target for little fish, the Nudibranch will withdraw its tentacles to avoid any such confrontations, usually though the Nudibranch will be left untouched, as they are usually well known to the reef fish, and if swallowed can be deadly.

There are two main types of Nudibranch’s they are called the Dorid Nudibranch’s and Eolid Nudibranch’s. Dorid Nudibranch’s, actually breathe through their gills that are on their backs’, while the Eolid Nudibranch’s have a finger-like appendages that cover their back. The Cerata can be a variety of shapes thread-like, club-shaped, clustered, or branched.

Nudibranches have a flat, broad muscle which is called a foot, like their land based counterparts they also leave a layer of slime where ever they travel. Nudibranch’s are typically found on corals reefs and sandy areas of the sea bottom. They can also swim short distances by flexing their muscles and fluttering through the water. This is an amazing sight to behold.

Nudi’s have quite poor eye sight if we compare it to our own and must rely on their tentacles to be able to feel and taste their way around the reef. It is known that they cannot see their own stunning colours, but they can distinguish between dark and light.

Their food is a mixture of algae and small sponges and corals, they can also eat fish eggs and other sea slugs too, though it has been remarked that they are quite fussy eaters. the Nudibranch’s actually get their stunning colouration form the things they eat, and it is also these colours which warn off potential predators. Nudibranches are poisonous to most fish.

Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, having both sets of male and female reproductive organs; they still need to find a mate to reproduce because they still cannot mate with themselves. Once the eggs are ready to be laid they are deposited with a jelly like spiral coil, many divers will have seen these coils on the reefs and probably not paid a second thought to them.

Nudibranch Image Gallery

Marine Life

Harlequin Shrimp – Marine Life in Thailand

Harlequin Shrimp
Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin Shrimp are one of the most sought after Photographic models of the undersea world. Make no mistake; you may have never heard about this little shrimp, but go onto any Thailand liveaboard and you will soon become familiar with the name.

These angelic looking little shrimp, which grow to no more than a few centimeters in length mate for life. They are detested in the starfish world. Harlequin Shrimp prefer the water temperature to be around 27 /30 degrees, and can be found in the warmer parts of the Pacific Ocean especially where this huge body of water meets the Indian Ocean.

This little shrimp has two oversized pinchers which it waves around as a warning to predators not to come to close. They also can extract toxins from their food which making it dangerous and toxic to eat, keeping predators away.

The female is slightly larger than the male.

The Indian Ocean Harlequin shrimp is typically a creamy white colour with a stunning pattern of purple and blue colour configuration with occasional spots. They have two walking legs on either side of its body and have the large pincher claws which they use with great success. The claws actually look quite flat and their eyes also seem to have been smoothed out too.

Harlequin Shrimp tend to move quite slowly, and can be found sometimes on shallower reefs; normally they hang out on small ledges out of any strong current. They feed primarily on starfish, which they will attack without mercury by cutting off one of its legs the shrimp will then take the leg back to its lair to feast on its bounty.

The shrimp tend to work in pairs, usually the male and female with the female being slightly larger than the male; she will also have abdominal coloured plates.

She can produce literally thousands of eggs per year, though this may depend more on the environmental conditions of the area they have inhabited.

The female tends to her brood until they hatch out then they are on their own much like most marine animals. Here in Thailand, the Harlequin Shrimp is a highly sort after prize amongst video and camera junkies. They make excellent models, if they can be found, as they do not run off too far.

They can be found on dive site like Hin Daeng and Richelieu Rock; they also adapt quite well to life in an aquarium, but do need to be looked after carefully. These beautiful creatures though are much more appreciated when you find them on the reefs.

They are not easy to find, one clue as to their whereabouts is, if you spot a freshly chomped on starfish with only four legs, then these little fellows are the most likely culprit, as starfish are their main diet.

After dissection of the starfish appendage, they drag the leg back to their hole, they will consume it quite quickly often killing the starfish. A starfish staple diet is corals, so these little guys do help the reefs with their hunting.

Harlequin Shrimp Image Gallery


Marine Life

Frogfish – Marine Life in Thailand

Yellow Frogfish - Marine Life of Thailand
Yellow Frogfish

Frogfish – Anglerfish commonly known globally as a frog fish, the species is also known as the anglerfish in some countries. The frogfish is no relation to the frog at all and is a true fish, although a strange one at that.

Frogfish inhabit all tropical seas around the world with the exception of the Mediterranean Sea. They are quite a small stocky little fish which are excellent at camouflage. They use this skill not only to hide from predators but also to ambush their own prey.

There are many different species of the frogfish and most of which can change colour, some even cover themselves with other organisms to give them the ultimate disguise. They move incredibly slowly, that is when they actually do move at all. They tend to lay in wait for hours, waiting for just right moment when an unsuspecting poor critter swims by, then in a millisecond it is swallowed in a rapid no mercy strike.

Frogfishes are quite a broad looking fish in appearance, they are not very big in fact the largest is only a little over twelve inches while the smallest are in fact no bigger than a plum. Their bodies do not have the usual scaly appearance of other fish and are usually covered with bumpy features.

Their Mouths are pointed upwards giving them a frowning expression, in fact they really do look like are in a very bad mood all the time. Many are brightly coloured, such as bright yellow, reds, green and even black some are even spotted and some frogfish are several different colours. Usually they become the same colours as the surrounding reef; this is what makes them expert in camouflage.

Frogfishes eat small shellfish, and other fish, sometimes they will even eat another of the same species. When they first spot their potential prey the frogfish follow it never losing visual with its prey, then when it is within striking range usually a couple of body lengths away.

Approaching prey will not even notice the frog fish as it prepares to strike move very slowly getting itself ready then boom, it strikes extending its mouth out in a millisecond.

Once the prey is in the Frog fish mouth there is nowhere for it to go the water that came in alongside the prey is flushed out through the gills leaving the defenseless animal staring into a empty pit where it will slowly be consumed alive. The frogfish also has a a special muscle which keeps its esophagus closed allowing the prey no chance of escape.

Frog fish are notoriously difficult to find let alone photograph, however as they do not move too far. So if you find one on a reef make special note of exactly where it is and no doubt you should be able to find it again and again. If you are in search of one not knowing if there is one there or not then you really have your work cut out –good luck with that.

Here in Thailand they are prized asset to any dive site, unfortunately most dive guides keep this knowledge to themselves and do not reveal their findings to anyone. I once found one on Richelieu Rock, I was very close to corals and searching for anything macro in fact I think I was looking for either pipe fish or harlequin shrimp.

Then out of the corner of my eye something move very slightly away from me I must have gotten to near it for its own comfort. There is t was my own frog fish, I turned to my buddy to show them my findings and it took me another five minutes to relocate it such is there amazing concealment techniques.

Frogfish are a real macro hunters top prized souvenir make no mistake they are wonderful addition to any reef, just be careful where you are putting your hands next you are diving that piece of soft sponge or hard coral might not be what you first tough tit was.

Frogfish Image Gallery

Marine Life

Whale Shark – Marine Life in Thailand

Hin Muang Diving Site Highlight - Whale Shark with Trevally
Whale Shark with Trevally

Whale Shark are the most popular fish requested on most scuba divers wish list when they come to Thailand for a liveaboard trip, is to see the huge harmless plankton eating colossus the Whaleshark.

You would expect that something so large would not be so difficult to find even underwater. The average size for this mega fish being around 6 metres (the largest ever reported in excess of 12 metres); alas there are divers with literally hundreds of dives who go their whole lives without seeing one.

The Whaleshark is not, as some might be lead to believe, a hybrid of whale and shark combined, now that would be the coolest creature in the seas I’m sure. The Whaleshark is actually a shark, and is the largest shark in the world; in fact the Whaleshark is the largest fish in the entire sea.

The Whaleshark populates warm, tropical waters around the world; most sightings of this beast are seen on or very close to corals reefs, where divers play. However recent tagging has taken place and determined that the Whaleshark dives to depths of 500 metres and more. Just why the Whaleshark goes down this far, much like many ocean going animals, remains a mystery to man.

Due to sharks relatively slow sexual maturity rate, many of the species have been placed on the high risk charter by the WWF including unfortunately the Whaleshark. This magnificent fish, in Asia alone, is highly regarded for its fins, to make the shark fin soup. Other serious threats are pollution, disregarded fishing nets, and other general abuse by man.

Female Whalesharks incubate in their womb hundreds of eggs at a time, and when ready, these eggs hatch inside the mother, effectively meaning that she gives birth to live young.

Unfortunately, infant mortality rates are very high and out these several hundred baby sharks only a few will ever see adulthood. The remaining eggs are thought to be there so that when the whale shark pups hatch, they have something to eat. Whalesharks are thought to live from anywhere from sixty years to one hundred years old.

This year the southern dive sites of Thailand have seen a major increase in Whaleshark activity, not for at least ten years have there been so many sightings, it has been incredible. On several occasions three different Whalesharks have been seen at the same time on one dive site, this is unusual for Thai waters.

Whalesharks are plankton chasers and follow the current, which carry these tiny animals, and make up the majority of the Whalesharks dietary needs. If you are lucky enough to be on a dive site when one comes by, you may notice how it feeds. The mouth is enormous, some over five feet wide, easily swallowing a diver if it so wished.

They scoop up the plankton in its mouth and with special filters it swallows all the food and disregards the superfluous water out through its gills. They are a remarkable machine. I have met divers who only have four dives and they were lucky enough to have seen one on their first dive ever.

I have also met people who have been diving for years and have never seen one, but, to see one is the only real way to appreciate their immense size. Divers can get close to them, so close in fact be able to touch them. Usually these sharks don’t like too much human interaction and will soon swim off if the diver becomes annoying, spoiling the fun for everyone.

Like all marine animals, respect should be shown to theses endangered and beautiful wild creatures. Try to imagine for a minute, the miles they have travelled on their nomadic travels across our oceans and what stores they could tell.

Whale Shark Image Gallery

Marine Life

Ghost Pipefish – Marine Life in Thailand

Ghost Pipefish found while Scuba Diving in Thailand
Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Ghost Pipefish are masters of disguise, some say that they have the best disguise in the seas, although personally that reputation must surely go to the Mimic Octopus, but that’s another story.

Recognized there are five members of the Ghost Pipe fish family. Although due to a lack of research this list is not conclusive and there may be more Ghost Pipefish out there that have not yet been documented.

All members of this family are quite small, and all have a similar body shape but they do differ considerably in colour and patterns of camouflage.
They are not easy to find, ask any Divemaster or diving instructor, they are elusive due to their exceptional camouflaged skills. Finding them even when they are known to be in a particular area can prove very challenging indeed.

Ghost pipe fish are not fish at all as they belong to the seahorse family, although distant cousins at that. Ghost Pipe Fish are slightly different to Pipefish and can be distinguished by having pelvic fins, a spiny dorsal fin and star shapes patterns on their skin. And unlike Genuine Pipefishes the female Ghost Pipefish use their pelvic fins to clutch their eggs.

Ghost Pipefishes, as I previously mentioned are amazing camouflage experts, and can look like floating leaves, they can also be confused easily with certain crinoids, as well as algae and sponges and of course sea-grass. This makes them even more popular amongst divers specially photographers and videographers.

Unlike seahorses, the Ghost Pipefish young are cared for by the female, whereas in young seahorses, it is the father that takes the leading role on protection. After being born they spend much of their early life floating around the sea as plankton until they reach maturity and they finally settle somewhere on a coral reef for protection.

Ghost pipefish are, as I have said, extremely difficult to find, and contrary to reports they are only visible on the reefs for a couple of months a year, usually when the water temperature is at it warmest. They make excellent models for any photographer as they don’t really move about much.

They also do not like to sit near strong currents and will hide away out of the way of the fast moving water in small areas such as sheltered spots and muck diving sites too.

Here in Thailand, amongst divers that come here to dive our wonderful and diverse coral reefs, very few understand just how difficult these creatures are to spot. Usually local dive guides will tell each other where the Ghost Pipefish is, although many keep their finds a secret.

I can tell you that actually spotting these beautiful creatures is even better by yourself, especially without any previous knowledge one is in the area, it is a wonderful feeling, up there with seeing a Manta Ray.

Ghost Pipefish will usually wait in an upside down position while feeding, waiting for its unassuming prey, which is then sucked up through its long snout. If you get lucky enough to observe their features, you will notice how similar they are to the mythical dragon. They tend to make their homes on the reef just away from the stronger currents, waiting for its prey to glide by in the current.

In most areas where Ghost Pipefish are present they can only be observed for a couple of months a year as they are only seasonal visitors. Where they go during this time is anyone’s guess. Happy Macro Hunting !

Ghost Pipefish Image Gallery