indo pacific

In 1972 biologists Colin Tayler and Graham Saayman were observing a group of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in a South African aquarium. One of them, a 6-month-old calf named Dolly, began to seek their attention by pressing feathers, stones, seaweed, and fish skins against the glass of the viewing chamber. If they ignored her she swam off and returned with a different object.

At the end of one observation session, one of the investigators blew a cloud of cigarette smoke against the glass as Dolly was looking in. “The observer was astonished when the animal immediately swam off to its mother, returned and released a mouthful of milk which engulfed her head, giving much the same effect as had the cigarette smoke,” the biologists reported. “Dolly subsequently used this behaviour as a regular device to attract attention” from the scientists!


OMG it’s like swimming ribbon candy!

The ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita), also known as the leaf-nosed moray eel or bernis eel, is a species of moray eel, the only member of the genus Rhinomuraena. What is now known as R. quaesita also includes the former R. amboinensis. R. quaesita was used for blue ribbon eels and R. amboinensis for black ribbon eels, but these are now recognized as the same species. The ribbon eel is found in lagoons and reefs in the Indo-Pacific ocean, ranging from East Africa to southern Japan, Australia and French Polynesia. Although generally placed in the moray eel family Muraenidae, it has several distinctive features leading some to place it in its own family, Rhinomuraenidae.

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Horned Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)

Also known as the Chocolate Chip or Knobbed Sea Star, the horned sea star is a species of oreasterid sea star that occurs in warm, shallow waters in the Indo-Pacific. Like many other sea stars P. nodosus is an opportunistic carnivore and will feeds mainly on sessile invertebrates and other slow moving invertebrates. The “horns” which give P. nodosus its common name are used mainly to deter potential predators by making it look less palatable.


Animalia-Echinodermata-Asteroidea-Valvatida-Oreasteridae-Protoreaster-P. nodosus

Images: Kareji and Marta Maria Rubio Texeria

I love cuttlefish. And actually all cephalopods are pretty awesome.

Did you know they are  in the Mollusc family?  That means they are related to snails, although they are very much different from their arms and tentacles, to the ability to change skin colour and texture.


Wow! Have you ever seen an alien skull?! Just kidding! This unusual specimen is a real Dugong skull in the teaching collection of the University of Toronto!

Dugongs are marine mammals found in the Indo-West Pacific. They feed primarily on seagrass and thus are restricted to coastal environments.

They are listed as Vulnerable by CITES as their population is at risk from fishing-related activities, hunting, and habitat destruction, coupled with a low rate of reproduction.

Ceratosoma trilobatum

Ceratosoma trilobatum is a species of colorful dorid nudibranch, a sea slug, a shell-less marine gastropod mollusk in the family Chromodorididae. This sea slug is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific area, from the oriental African coast to Japan, Red Sea included.Ceratosoma trilobatum can grow to a maximal size of 15 cm length. It feeds on sponge.

photo credits: JennyHuang

Elysia ornata (Ornate leaf slug)
Pelong SE, Brunei, 4m

Not a nudi! E. ornata is closely related to nudibranchs, but actually belongs to a clade known as Sacoglossa, the ‘sap sucking’ sea slugs.

Sacoglossans are called sap suckers because they eat the cell contents of seaweed and algae. The cool part is that they can then incorporate the plant chloroplasts into their bodies and use them to photosynthesise! They use the products of photosynthesis to supplement their diets.

Animalia - Mollusca - Gastropoda - Sacoglossa - Plakobranchidae - ElysiaE. ornata

Two F/A-18F Super Hornets assigned to the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 fly above the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). F/A-18’s operate from 10 aircraft carriers and 37 squadrons worldwide. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Jamaal Liddell/Released)

Burgundy Leaf Fish in Komodo National Park, Flores, Indonesia. 

These guys were all over in an array of different colours (my favourite find was pink!). Not only do they look leaf-like, they sway back and forth in the current to complete the disguise.