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Wakatobi Marine Life News

Keep the Wakatobi experience alive after you return home or build excitement for your upcoming adventure. Visit this page for regular reports from Wakatobi dive staff on recent marine life sightings.


Report by Richard Smith (September 2009, Trip 27 & 28)

I am well and truly settled into the swing of diving life here at Wakatobi Dive Resort, although there have been quite a few changes since I was here last. There are many more guides than during my previous stays, as the resort now offers private guiding. This allows divers to have their very own guide should they choose this service. The weather has been great lately and the windy season passed very quickly this year.

Recently we have been inundated with ghost pipefishes of several species. The Halimeda species has been spotted at three sites, a pair of Robust at a site called The Zoo, and the generally uncommon Ornate ghost pipefish has been seen at many sites over the last few weeks. Unlike other pipefish in which the male broods the eggs and young it is the female ghost pipefish that is in charge of the offspring. She broods the eggs between enlarged pectoral fins located under the body, which can also be used to sex these species.

halimeda ghostpipefish
Halimeda ghost pipefish (green variation)
(Solenostomus halimeda)
halimeda ghost pipefish
Halimeda ghost pipefish (white variation)
(Solenostomus halimeda)
robust ghost pipefish
Robust ghost pipefish
(Solenostomus cyanopterus)
ornate ghost pipefish
Ornate ghost pipefish
(Solenostomus paradoxus)

I went to a site called the Zoo and was approached by a black-tip reef shark several times before it went about its day. The week ahead holds more of my pygmy seahorse behavioural observations, and I hope to spend a little time at the dive sites Roma and Table Coral City (with spawning tube sponges and schools of fish), which people are raving about at the moment!

Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle
(Eretmochelys imbricate)
Spinecheek anemonefish
Spinecheek anemonefish
(Premnas biaculeatus)
Rare yellow variation Pygmy seahorse
Rare yellow variation Pygmy seahorse
(Hippocampus Bargibanti)

Minute filefish
(Rudarius minutus
Pyjama cardinal fish
(Sphaeramia nematoptera)

Report by Lorenz (August 2009, Trip 26)

During this seven days trip our guests on Pelagian saw Sperm whales at Buton island! They were between 10 - 15 m long. Sperm whales are generally easy to distinguish from other large whales at sea, even at a great distance. The images show the characteristic small rounded dorsal humps and wrinkled body surface. The fluke is broad and triangular with a nearly straight trailing edge, rounded tips, and a deep notch. In the short clip you can as well observe the uniquely angled bushy blow to the left, caused by the single S-shaped blowhole at the left front of the head.

Sperm Whale @ Burton
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Sperm Whale @ Burton
All photos by Sherry Tryssenaar. Video by Wakatobi staff.

Sperm Whale Illustration

'Pygmy-Richard' Smith is back in Wakatobi Resort for his studies.
Here his first Trip report:

Hippocampus denise
After one year away from the reefs here at Wakatobi I am back again to conduct more of my fieldwork on the pygmy seahorses in the area. The reefs have some of the highest abundance and diversity of species that I have seen, so Wakatobi Resort is the perfect place to observe behaviours and elucidate their ecology. Since I was last here, the two species of free-living pygmies that live on the reefs have officially been given scientific names. The white pygmy seahorse that is often found living in and around patches of Halimeda algae is now called Hippocampus pontohi, and the much less common brown pygmy with patches of orange and red is known as H. severnsi. Also common are the two species that are the focus of my study, H. bargibanti and H. denise. Both are obligate gorgonian-associated species, which basically means they live on gorgonian fan corals and are not found elsewhere on the reef. Both of these species are commonly found on the House Reef and many of the other dive sites around the resort. I was searching the House Reef for a suitable group of H. denise to observe the social and reproductive behaviours. I have been very lucky in finding a group of four on a gorgonian coral, where I spent 45 hours observing a group two years ago. It will be very interesting to see what goes on socially in this case. My plan for the coming trip is to continue with my observations of this group as well as getting out to some of the other sites to observe the pygmies there. I will look forward to seeing how the other sites have changed over the past year and seeing whether some of the residents are still present 12 months on.

Hippocampus bargibanti Hippocampus pontohi Hippocampus severnsi
All photos by Richard Smith

Richard Smith Blog

Report by Britta (May 2009 Trip 15)

It was only a seven days trip, but it was an extraordinary one! Most of the time, I tell you about all the little creatures we spotted during a trip. Besides that, I almost forget about the great scenery, the pristine reefs and the amazing atmosphere - which makes Wakatobi so special for all of us too!

We were pleased to have Aaron Wong from Singapore with us on this trip, who took some incredible shots, as you can see below. Thank you Aaron for your slide show!

Furthermore, there are of course interesting stories about critters and creatures: At our beautiful House Reef we found a Yellow spotted Pipefish (Corythoichthys polynotatus). This species belongs to the same scientific family as seahorses (family Syngnathidae). They are similar in appearance to seahorses, with small fins, rigid bodies, and rough skin texture. Typically found foraging near the bottom around sheltered reefs among coral rubble, weed or seagrass, pipefish are long and slender like a sea snake, though comparatively small. Like common seahorses, pipefish are ovoviviparous (young pipefish develops within eggs that remain within the father's body up until they hatch or are about to hatch) and the male carries the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail.

Looking forward to see all of you soon, thank you for the great time!

See all of Aaron's Photos in a Slide Show - CLICK HERE!

Aaron Wong Photos
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
Aaron Wong Photo
All photos by Aaron Wong


Xenon Crab - Xenocarcinus tuberculatus

Porcelain Crab - Neopetrolisthes oshimai
Report by Britta (May 2009 Trip 13)

The weather was simply perfect, and it was impossible to get bored diving at Wakatobi this week! At Teluk Maya, a Broadclub Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) was laying eggs right in front of us. The eggs of this cuttlefish are white and perfectly rounded, just like ping pong balls. The soon we thought we had enough excitement for one dive site, a black Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commersoni) caught the eye of one of our expert guides. Hanging out his antenna for possible prey, he seemed almost invisible amongst the sponges and corals. Just one day later a Manta Ray (Manta birostris) with a size of approximately 4m "flew" by at Turkey Beach! Then, along came Pockets... and the parade of the camouflaged snails. These ovulid snails are almost perfect in their adaption of texture and colour to various Fans and Soft Corals. The two cowries which can be found on whip corals, Aclyvolva sp. and Phenacovolva sp., are able to retract their "polyps" into their skeleton - so does the cryptic cowrie Prosimnia semperi, that was practically indistinguishable from the corals. These rare and gorgeous sightings built the fulminate finish of another great trip. Come and see the wonders of Wakatobi :

All Photos below by Wakatobi guest Sacha Brown www.brownbeard.com

Allied Cowrie - Primovula sp.

Leaf Scorpionfish - Taenianotus triacanthus

Halimeda Ghostpipefish - Solenostomus halimeda

Tubastrea micrantha

Organ Utan Crab - Achaeus japonicus

Winged Pipefish - Halicampus mactorhynchus

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