Anemonefish are pretty, found worldwide and often among the first species recorded in a new diver’s logbook. For most divers visiting Lembeh they have far rarer critters on their list to find but don’t swim past that anemonefish! Look a bit closer because in the Lembeh Strait, all is not as it seems…
Firstly, they can be difficult to get close to because they are so defensive! Most new divers are scared of sharks (a fear which is mostly unfounded) but they should be far more wary of the ‘cute’ Nemo! Anemonefish are immune to the stings of their host anemone which offers a wonderful symbiotic relationship; the fish are protected from predators by the anemones stinging cells and the fish poop offers valuable nutrients to the anemone. Yes, anemones are also animals and if they are hosting a family of fish they can grow bigger and faster!
Look past the anemonefish giving you aggravation by occasionally nipping at you if you get too close, after all, they’re only trying to protect their home which might be harboring clusters of precious eggs! You could also forgive them for being a bit antsy because they may be unwitting hosts (and victims) of a gruesome critter – the ‘tongue biter isopod’ (Cymothoa sp.). This parasitic louse enters through the fish’s gills and it will then sever the blood vessels of the tongue. As the tongue inevitably dies and drops off, the louse attaches itself to the stub where it feeds on the fish’s blood or mucus.
A good knowledge of marine creatures is vital for muck diving so you know where to look for the rare, and often tiny, critters that make Lembeh such a haven for underwater photographers. All kinds of shrimp and crabs share the anemonefish’s home and now you know to keep a careful eye on the fish mouths as well. Maybe you’ll find a little white blob with black eyes staring back at you and you can feel some extra sympathy for the fish.
On our dives this week we’ve found little isopods in fish mouths along with clusters of eggs for those species that mouth brood! We’ve had a very fun week welcoming back Nicole and Tarja for some especially good night diving. Thanks are due to Erica for introducing the whole resort to some very fun (and competitive) card games!
If you’d like to join us at Two Fish Divers Lembeh and dive with some of the most unique and rare marine species on the planet, fill in the form below and we will get right back to you!