Scuba Diving in Raja Ampat – The small reef dwellers

The ornate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) can be seen while scuba diving in Raja Ampat

The ornate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) can be seen while scuba diving in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is well known for its breathtaking biodiversity under water. There are many big fish like sharks, rays, bumphead parrotfish and groupers, which you will see during scuba diving in Raja Ampat. However, the main draw card of Raja Ampat is the stunning macro world with all its little creatures hiding in the reef. In this blog post, we will introduce you to some of these little underwater creatures.

Some of these sea dwellers are very small and sometimes we even need a magnifying glass to see them.

Small fish with unusual shapes

The ornate ghost pipefish or harlequin ghost pipe fish is maybe one of the most beautiful fish that you can see during scuba diving in Raja Ampat. They are very well camouflaged and it is difficult to spot them. Very often, these about 10 cm long pipefish live close to gorgonians, whip corals or black corals, where they can find shelter. They completely blend in with the surrounding corals and they come in different color patterns ranging from black to red and yellow.

The Denise’s pygmy seahorse or the yellow pygmy seahorse is another fish with a body shape that is different to the typical form of a fish. Raja Ampat is well known for its population of different pygmy seahorses that are only researched since a few years.

A Denise's pygmy seahorse (hippocampus denise) in a gorgonia

A Denise’s pygmy seahorse (hippocampus denise) in a gorgonia

The Denise’s pygmy seahorse is one of the smallest pygmy seahorses and is about 1.35cm long. These small fishes live in gorgonians, where they completely blend in and are very difficult to find. They have been recognized as individual species in 2003 and they live in the reefs of the Western Pacific from Indonesia to Vanuatu and Palau.

Tiny crustaceans while scuba diving in Raja Ampat

The wire coral crab lives well camouflaged on a wire coral. The crab finds shelter on the wire coral because he perfectly blends in with his color and shape.

A Wire Coral Crab (Xenocarcinus tuberculatus) on a wire coral

A Wire Coral Crab (Xenocarcinus tuberculatus) on a wire coral while scuba diving in Raja Ampat

The Lauriea siagiani is a species of the squat lobster and hides in the folds of barrel sponges. You need to know where to look for if you like to spot these small lobsters. With their color and the small size they can hide very well in the folds of the barrel sponges.

A squat lobster (Lauriea siagiani) on a barrel sponge

A squat lobster (Lauriea siagiani) on a barrel sponge

The sea cucumber crab lives in a close relationship with sea cucumbers. The sea cucumber is hiding place and transportation at the same time.

The sea cucumber crab or red-spotted white crab (Lissocarcinus orbicularis) on a sea cucumber

The sea cucumber crab or red-spotted white crab (Lissocarcinus orbicularis) on a sea cucumber

Some cleaner shrimp pursue a different strategy to protect their life. They live in symbiosis with anemones and can hide between the stinging tentacles.

This cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes sarasvati) lives in symbiosis with the anemone

This cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes sarasvati) lives in symbiosis with the anemone

Sea dwellers from another world

The Christmas tree worms do not even try to hide and they do not blend in with the corals at all. The opposite is actually true. The Christmas tree worms are brightly colored and come in all different colors. As soon as a predator is getting too close, the Christmas tree worm withdraws as quick as a flash into its tube.

They bore a hole into a coral and build a tube which will serve as a home for their entire live. Because it does not move outside its tube, the Christmas tree worm does not have eyes or any specialized appendages for movement or swimming.

The Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) comes in all different colors

The Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) comes in all different colors

Beutiful nudibranchs

The nudibranchs are a big and diverse group of soft-bodied animals that live in the reefs of our oceans. Over 2’000 different species are known. They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. While scuba diving in Raja Ampat you can find many beautiful examples of nudibranchs.

Some nudibranchs are brightly colored and have a contrasting color pattern that makes them very conspicuous in the reefs. They are also very slow and cannot hide quickly when in danger. That’s the reason why they evolved another defense strategy. They use a variety of chemical defenses to aid in protection and some of them can release acid from the skin.

You can find a selection of nudibranchs in the following images. All of the following belong to the group of the Doridacea.

Doridacea (Glossodoris Atromarfinata)

Doridacea (Glossodoris Atromarfinata)

Doridacea (Chromodoris Coi)

Doridacea (Chromodoris Coi)

Doridacea (Tambja sp.)

Doridacea (Tambja sp.)

Doridacea (Chromodoris Annae)

Doridacea (Chromodoris Annae)

The Aeolidida are another group of nudibranchs. They are distinguished from other nudibranchs by their possession of many colorful tentacles on their body.

Aeolidida

Aeolidida

Scuba diving in Raja Ampat is breathtaking. Especially the tiny little creatures are extremely fascinating. We currently live and work on the small island Pulau Pef and 0n every dive, we discover something new.

What underwater animals do you like? Have you been scuba diving in Raja Ampat? Would you like to know how to travel to Raja Ampat on a budget?

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *