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Life Forms

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22 January 2010

S2 12.917 E130 33.574 – Fiabacet

S2 14.666 E130 33.401 – Misool Eco Resort

When Yogi starts singing, I have all reason to stop and listen to his song as he seldom does this. Whereas I break into a song at a drop of a hat, even if I don’t know the lyrics. Well, Yogi repeatedly sang “Life Forms” – original sung by Data after getting his emotion chip implanted in the old Star Trek movie “Generations” with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard of the Enterprise. Yogi sang the entire stanza!!! Oh what joy! It was even in tune.

“Life forms . . . You tiny little life forms . . . You precious little life forms . . . Where are you?”

(Watch Data singing “Life Forms” video here)

Straight out of an animal horror movie, these skeleton shrimps seem to fight each other for space and foodStraight out of an animal horror movie, these skeleton shrimps seem to fight each other for space and food

We encounter life forms everywhere. Truly everywhere on land and underwater.

Pitcher plants cover some of the karst limestone walls in Sunmalelen Pitcher plants cover some of the karst limestone walls in Sunmalelen waiting patiently for fallen or crawling ants (pardon the topside photo, but I did say land . . .)

In Misool Raja Ampat, gorgonian fans abound and in them, in tiny little life forms, we saw amazing living creatures – skeleton shrimps, pygmy sea horses, brittle stars . . .

Current flowing through the many islands and reefs in this protected Misool make perfect growing fields for gorgonian fansCurrent flowing through the many islands and reefs in this protected Misool area make perfect growing fields for gorgonian fans Damselfish eggs on a branch or two of a fan coral. They look like tiny jewels don't they?Damselfish eggs on a branch or two of a fan coral. They look like tiny jewels don't they? Hundreds of brittlestars find a home in this fan coral same as H.denise the pygmyseahorse. I just love echinoderms. And since my name is Stella, I just have to look for my fellow stars underwater!Hundreds of brittlestars find a home in this fan coral same as H.denise the pygmy seahorse. I just love echinoderms. And since my name is Stella, I just have to look for my fellow stars underwater! An odd colored Raja Ampat seahorse, not in its usual red and white outfitAn odd colored Raja Ampat seahorse, not in its usual red and white outfit A pygmy seahorse will always be found in the same fan but this one seems to have had a fight with his partner which sits on the nearby fan. This cutie is called a Hippocampus deniseA pygmy seahorse will always be found in the same fan but this one seems to have had a fight with his partner which sits on the nearby fan. This cutie is called a Hippocampus denise

I get awestruck with nature’s habitats.

There are many sea fans out there that is home to loads of these tiny beauties of many varieties. Raja Ampat is pygmy seahorse haven. And the varieties are staggering.

A starfish studded with comb jelliesA starfish studded with comb jellies

Comb jellyfish makes its home on a sea star and this too is just spectacular.

Two thin gossamer comb-shaped fibres come out of this pink dots on white background flat jellyfish very likely to catch plankton to eatTwo thin gossamer comb-shaped fibres come out of this pink dots on white background, very likely to catch plankton to eat This bright yellow crinoid shrimp is almost invisible as it blends in seamlessly to its homeThis bright yellow crinoid shrimp is almost invisible as it blends in seamlessly with its home Funny face clingfish inside a featherstar's cirri or "legs". Sometimes, they swim out of their home and they look like bugger floating towards you! Funny face clingfish inside a featherstar's cirri or "legs". They look very odd when swim out of their home looking like a big bugger floating towards you!

Crinoids or featherstars of all colors are everywhere in the reef. Clingfish, shrimps and crabs live in commensal relationships with crinoids. They are living in a relationship where the “intruder” gets his food or other benefits like safe shelter from the crinoid without hurting or helping it.

One of our most favourite dive sites is the house reef of Misool Eco Resort. It is the very location of the recent David Attenborough BBC “LIFE” series where famous cameraman Peter Scoones filmed a clownfish caring for its eggs.

Celebrity clownfish who modeled for the BBC LIFE documentary!Celebrity clownfish who modeled for the BBC LIFE documentary! And with eggs! Oh what luck. Here are two picking and fanning away, caring for their ownAnd with eggs! Oh what luck. Here are two picking and fanning away, caring for their own And the eggs have eyes. Oh the wonders of nature!And the eggs have eyes. Oh the wonders of nature!

This house reef has so much to offer. We did not go very far in any of our dives. There was no need for us to do kilometer long finning sessions. We concentrated in a few square meters here and there and the reef unfolded right before our eyes. Life forms appeared like magic. The reefs in Misool are so saturated with colors it was hard to find critters. But stop and keep still and the living jewels reveal themselves. Each of our house reef dives averaged 80 minutes or until Yogi ran low on air and grabbed on to my octopus to continue shooting. When he was almost out of air, I always had 100 bars left. I think he married me to have his spare air close by.

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Comments


  • Darryl B

    Thanks for posting these, Stella! Since I’m no longer working at Ranger Rick, I’ve been following your blog so I can enjoy your and Jurgen’s adventures from home.

    Keep up the good work!

  • grehard wamalwa

    Thank you for being there for person like me. God bless you as you continue on discovering more.

  • http://www.marineencounters.com.au Linda

    Exquisite! I love mantas. Snorkeling with 3 of them many years ago off PD while they gracefully somersaulted around me is still one of my most vivid and cherished memories. You have captured the moment perfectly Yogi. What a remarkable find!