Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ambon Frogfish

A year ago we met up with Buck and Andy of Maluku Divers while passing through Bali on the way back to Singapore. Buck had just returned from Ambon and wanted to show me a photo of a strange looking frogfish he never came across before. I thought it looked like a Cryptic Frogfish, but when we looked that up we all concluded it wasn’t that. It was a beautifully patterned creature with lines of white and various grades of red/orange. I started calling it a Psychedelic Frogfish because of these patterns.
I was tempted to fly back to Ambon that same day, but it wasn’t until April we finally made it back there. By now it was confirmed to be a new species and everybody was excited when just before we arrived they found one carrying a clutch of eggs behind its curled tail.
The next day on the trip over to Laha my mind drifted away, New species....Carrying eggs.....Photo opportunities.....
The first dive put me back to reality. Laha was giving us the usual overdose of critters and I almost forgot about the frogfish until our dive guide Toby called us over at the end of the second dive. There, taking shelter under a lump of rock was the “pregnant” frogfish.
Two days later I went back to Laha to find the frogfish again with Toby and videographer Mike Veitch. When we found the frogfish hiding deep inside a crack we noticed it was no longer carrying the eggs. We carried on looking for others and managed to find the smaller one pictured here.
We later found the clutch of eggs under a plank a couple of meters away from the hiding place of the larger individual. I took some photographs and when we looked at them later you could see the shape of the juvenile frogfish inside. A new batch of a new species......

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