Flash, Flash, Flash …

Togean, Blue and Filamented Flasher Wrasse

On my recent December Trip to Lembeh Strait i tried to shoot more “beautiful fish” and less “ugly critters” – not that i don’t like weird scorpionfishes and other cryptic species. But i wanted to get some more colourful stuff for my portfolio. So i spend a lot of time with Anemonefishes, Anthias … and Flasher Wrasses.
I have always admired these beautiful fishes and  love to watch their behavior. And if it would not be such a pain in the a.. to shoot them, we would see more pictures of them.My favorite spot to shoot them was a deep sandy area with lots of soft coral growth. In this area you can see 3 different species of flasher wrasses (left to right on picture): The Togean Flasher Wrasse, the Blue Flasher Wrasse and the Filamented Flasher Wrasse. All three fishes shown in the picture are males. Male Flasher Wrasses are more colourful than female Flasher Wrasses and they display their beauty (= quality as a mate and/or competitor) to others by flashing their beautifully coloured fins.

The later afternoon is usually the best time to shoot this behavior – but it can be also seen in daytime. Best technique is to put flashes at “full dump”, bump up the ISO and use a small Apeture for maximum depth of field as these stupid little male Flasher Wrasses also like to swim very quickly while they display their fins. This was the moment, when i started thinking, that maybe their name does not come from them flashing their fins, but from photographers wasting shots and flashes on them.
So bring a lot of patience, prepare some good swear-words and be ready to waste a dive (or two, or three …). At this point i would like to thank a lot to Simon from NAD-Lembeh for bringing me so often back to the same spot to try again and again and again ;)


Tongue Parasite Sex

Male Tongue Parasite behind Female Tongue ParasiteThe Tongue Parasite “Cymothoa exigua” is a parasitic Isopod and part of the Crustaceans. And it is very commonly seen in Lembeh Strait – probably the best place in the world to study them. Specially in Anemonefish they are very common in the Lembeh Strait – almost every Anemone hosts a fish with that Parasite in its mouth.
The Parasite is first born as a freeswimming male and then finally settles in the mouth of a fish, where it transformes into a female – holding on to the fishes tongue and feeding on the hosts blood from the tongue arterie. The tongue then slowly dies and the Parasite replaces the tongue. But it still functions as a tongue and helps the fish feeding. It now takes a share from the food of the host instead of sucking its blood – so the host does NOT die. At least not, as long as the Parasite remains in the mouth and functions as his “Tongue Prothesis” ;)
Sometimes (like in the picture above) you can see a smaller male Parasite behind the female – this is how the “Cymothoa exigua” is mating. The young males will then resettle in a mouth of a fish and the circle restarts. I was lucky enough to capture that shot in Lembeh Strait in December 2012 – diving with the skilled Dive-Team of NAD Lembeh.