indo pacific


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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The Whitetip Reef shark is a fairly small shark, not usually getting bigger than five feet long. These little guys are one of the most common sharks found on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Its scientific name “Triaenodon obesus” means “Fat Trident-toothed” shark. During the day, the Whitetip Reef shark often rests on the seafloor and continuously gulps water to breathe, meaning it does not have to swim to breathe! This shark is more active at night, and on an island called “Cocos” in the Pacific, the Whitetip Reef sharks have learned to hunt by following divers lights.

“Bohol Discodoris” (Discodoris boholiensis)

…a species of dorid Discodoridid nudibranch which is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific, ranging from the eastern coasts of Africa to Papua New Guinea. Bohol discodoris are large when compared to other nudibranch species, with individuals reaching lengths of 12 centimeters (4.7 inches). 


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Image: Steve Childs

Eastern triangle butterflyfish (Chaetodon baronessa)

The eastern triangle butterflyfish is a species of butterflyfish. It is found in the central Indo-West Pacific region from the Cocos-Keeling Islands and Indonesia in the eastern Indian Ocean to Fiji and Tonga, north to southern Japan, south to New Caledonia and New South Wales in Australia. It grows to a maximum of 16 cm long.The eastern triangle butterflyfish is found in seaward and lagoon coral reefs. They usually swim around in pairs and are territorial. This species feeds exclusively on the polyps of the tubular Acropora corals.

photo credits: wiki

An F-15K Slam Eagle taxis down the Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, flight line Oct. 10, 2016, during Red Flag-Alaska 17-1. Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercise and is vital to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The F-15K is assigned to the South Korea air force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)


Scientists recently discovered two species of shark river after analyzing the DNA of these fishes in a market in Papua New Guinea. These represent the first records of both species in the country since the 1960s and 1970s and highlight the lack of studies of shark biodiversity.

The river sharks (Carcharhinidae: Glyphis) are a relatively poorly known group of sharks with patchy distributions in tropical rivers and coastal regions of the Indo-West Pacific

The fact that adult speartooth sharks (Glyphis glyphis) , a large apex predator, have thus far gone unnoticed highlights the rarity of river sharks which combined with their occurrence in remote, poorly-surveyed regions, have resulted in Glyphis species being some of the least known sharks

Despite their large size, they are not considered a danger to humans due to their extreme rarity. Experts believe there are less than 2,500 mature individuals of this species in the entire world, and no more than 200 in any one local population.

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Photograph: Freshly caught specimen of New Guinea river shark (Glyphis garricki)

The New Guinea river shark, which is generally slightly larger, is even more rare. Fewer than 250 mature individuals are believed to exist.

  • Image:  Freshly caught adult males of speartooth shark (Glyphis glyphis)
  • reference:  White et al 2015 Rediscovery of the Threatened River Sharks, Glyphis garricki and G. glyphis, in Papua New Guinea. PLoS ONE

Ornate Leaf Slug aka Ornate Lettuce Slug (Elysia ornata)

The Lettuce slug is a species of Sacoglossan sea slug, the sap sucking sea slugs. As the name suggests, they suck the juices from various species of green algae. They are found in tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Lettuce slugs grow to a max length of 5 cm (2 inches).

photographs by Ria Tan and Budak | Flickr

The chambered nautilus is a common tropical Indo-West Pacific species, free-swimming from deep to shallow waters, feeding on fish and crustaceans. The shell is partitioned into chambers, with the animal occupying the outermost chamber. The other chambers are filled with gas and liquid, and connected by a hollow tube, the siphuncle, for regulating buoyancy. The nautilus shell nearly perfectly approximates the logarithmic spiral, which was first described mathematically in 1638 by French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes and half a century later by Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernulli, who referred to it as spira mirabilis, or miraculous spiral. The logarithmic spiral’s curve has the unique property of maintaining its shape as its size increases, a property that is elegantly manifested in the shape of the nautilus shell. This mathematical perfection made the nautilus shell the very emblem of natural beauty and harmony during the ages, hailed in poetry and fine arts alike.

Illustration: Nautilus pompilius (chambered nautilus); from Jean Charles Chenu, Illustrations conchyliologiques … , 1854.

See live nautilus in the current exhibition Life at the Limits, and learn more about shells in the new book, The Seashell Collector, a boxed set featuring a booklet by Ilya Temkin, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Museum.

Spotted Garden Eel (Heteroconger hassi)

The spotted garden eel is widespread throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific from the eastern coasts of Africa including the Red Sea to Polynesia, and south from Japan to New Caledonia.

It lives exclusively in variously sized colonies on sandy bottoms that are exposed to currents, at depths from 15 to 45 meters.  It digs a burrow from which it emerges with about a third of its body, pointing its mouth towards the underwater current to catch drifting food.


Garden eels, members of the conger eel family, live in the Indo-Pacific, but species are also found in warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean and East Pacific. These small eels live in burrows on the sea floor and get their name from their practice of poking their heads from their burrows while most of their bodies remain hidden. Since they tend to live in groups, the many eel heads “growing” from the sea floor resemble the plants in a garden.

Butterfly Chiton (Cryptoconchus porosus)

…a unique species of Acanthochitonid chiton that is known to occur in the Indo-Pacific, ranging from Madagascar to New Zealand. Butterfly chitons are fairly common within their range, often being seen on outer exposed rocks in areas in the low intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. Like other chitons, C. porosus is a grazer, using its radula to feed on a range of algae and other plant matter.


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Image: GrahamBould

The Bestiary: Bobbit Worm

Ah, annelids. Earthworms and the like. Those squishy little soil-eaters who help keeping the ground nutritious. Certainly helpful, they are. And while they are not the most cuddly animals, they are definitely not frighteOH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT THING.

Suddenly, I started questioning whether it was a good idea to start this series. I have a feeling that If I write anything bad about it, this fiend of Hell will hunt me down while I sleep.

Oh my God.

Well, let’s see.

Today’s Episode: the Bobbit Worm

Found in almost all warm seas around the world (suh-weet dreams, folks!) but mostly in the Indo-Pacific, the bobbit worm or  Eunice aphroditois, is one of the most frightening, creepy and bizarre marine predators (aside from deep sea predators, of course. You just can’t trump deep-sea predators in terms of scariness). Resembling a bizarre mix of an antlion, a Grandfather of the Desert and a killer rainbow, these terrifying annelid butchers bury their bodies into the ocean floor, only sticking out their head, sporting a pair of razor-sharp, jagged instakill mandibles and five sensitive antennae. If potential prey swims by, they are about to get their day ruined big time.

By “potential prey”, I meant “whatever the fuck is currently there”. The worm has absolutely zero problem wolfing down animals twice its diameter and has a tendency of attacking with such force that it accidentally slices its prey in half. I feel absolutely comfortable and not unsettled in the least right now, just so you know.

Oh, did I mention the part where it swallows its prey whole? Without killing them first? Getting snatched by a horrifying giant worm, injected with paralyzing toxins, and then gulped down into its intestines to be slowly digested alive must be a swell way to go.

I can understand why is it so ravenous though. Afterall, when you have to upkeep a body up to three fucking feet long, you’ll need some nutrients.

Yes, you read that right. Three. Feet. This thing can grow up to three goddamn feet long.

And exceptionally huge ones might reach a length of ten feet. For metric-users, that’s approximately 3 meters.

The more I write about the bobbit worm, the more it seems like I’m writing some bizarre Dune fanfiction.

The scientists who have found this fucker must have had a field day. The fact that they saw its mandibles, and immediately named the worm after Lorena Bobbitt, a woman who has become infamous by cutting off her husband’s penis, clearly indicates that. Even though bobbit worms don’t actually have penises, but I digress.

These monsters are also the bane of aquariums (aquaria? Goddamnit, Latin remnant words), as they occasionally get embedded in prop rocks while still small, and unseen, they can start offing the fish in the tank, one by one, basically under the noses of the aquarium staff. The fact that it grows into a three to ten feet long hellspawn with an eye-hurting rainbow coloration in the process bothers it not in staying completely hidden. Observe:

Imagine if you had to be an undetectable master assassin from birth. Hard, eh? Now imagine you had to be an undetectable master assassin from birth, while you’re also three meters tall and wear a rainbow-colored outfit. Impossible, eh? And yet, the motherfucking bobbit worm does it with relative ease.

There is an example of this from a few years back. The fish in one of the tanks in the Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium started disappearing without a trace. Sometimes they would swim behind a coral and not emerge on the other side. The staff also found coral cut in pieces and mysterious scratch marks on the rocks. So one night, they dismantled the entire tank and found a 4-feet-long bobbit worm that has been terrorizing the tank for months. They managed to lure it out, and placed it in its own tank, nicknaming it “Barry”. By the way, prior to the dismantling, the staff put hook traps into the tank to kill the fuck out of whatever was lurking in there. It didn’t quite work, because Barry ate its way through the wire the traps were made of and digested the hooks. Welp.

Oh, and it’s covered in bristles that can cause numbness permanently.

Overall, if you need something to keep yourself safe from bobbit worms, I recommend using this.

Sweet dreams.

Wire Coral Crab (lat.: Xenocarcinus tuberculatus) by tbanny Xenocarcinus tuberculatus is typically found in the Indo-Pacific region, including around Cargados Carajos, Chagos, East Africa, South Africa, the Red Sea, and Seychelles.

Shark Week: The Goblin Shark

Goblin sharks are aptly named, with their elongated snout, and protruding jaw they certainly look like something out of a nightmare. These are deep sea sharks so not very much is known about them.

Other sharks also have protruding jaws; however it is not quite as pronounced as the goblin sharks. The purpose for it is to catch prey as they try to dart away. Goblin sharks are not terribly fast but they make up for their speed with that jaw.

In this video you can see that jaw in action.

Goblin sharks have been caught in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Indo-Pacific, indicating a global distribution. It is believed that they are solitary animals.

We have yet found a pregnant female so we don’t know for sure which reproductive method these sharks use.

Some people have tried to keep them in captivity to study them but the longest (that I could find) that one stayed alive was about a week.

Thank you everyone for joining me for shark week!

Cockscomb Oyster (Lopha cristagallii)

…is a species of true oyster (Ostreidae) which is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, where it occurs from East Africa (including the Red Sea and the  Persian Gulf) to Micronesia; north to Japan and south to Papua New Guinea. Cockscomb oysters typically occur in coral reefs in shallow subtidal waters at depths of 5 to 30 m. Like other bivalves cockscomb oysters are suspension feeders. 


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Image: Dr. Dwayne Meadows