This small coral structure looks like a beautiful underwater castle. It is a hard coral which is home to millions of teeny tiny individual polyps in a castle constructed out of calcium carbonate. Other likely residents within this castle are single-celled algae. The algae use energy from the sun to make sugars and fats which they share with the coral allowing it to grow faster. The coral animals also make waste which feeds the algae. Together they make a very large and happy family of teeny residents in a beautiful castle. They even have a blue Christmas tree worm as a pet in the yard!
Watching clownfish swimming amongst a brightly colored anemone has always been a magical moment of any snorkeling trip for me. This photo actually has three of them, with the two smaller ones safely hiding amongst the stinging tentacles of their home, whilst the leader boldly sizes me up. Its very cute to watch, and always brings a big smile to my face (which usually means my mask fills with water and I momentarily drown). Common clownfish are seen in warmer tropical waters ranging from eastern Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia. The fish in this photo call the waters around Malaysia their home. They are such a beautiful sight to see, that I get so very disappointed and angry to hear that their numbers are decreasing due to the demand of the pet trade. I can imagine for some, that it might seem nice to watch them swimming in a tank in your home, but isn’t it so much more exciting to spot them happily swimming in their home in the ocean?
Imagine your day job consisted of rebuilding your home from scratch every single day. That’s exactly what this crab, along with millions of other crabs are repetitively doing. They empty out their homes of the destruction the tide brings in with it each and every day. Some of these tiny little crabs get quite creative with their designs of rolled up little balls of sand. For this particular crab, he always exited his home on the right, and placed all the little balls on the left, and walked all the way around to place them on the outside, getting progressively further away from the entrance. Every single pattern of sand balls around the homes of these crabs looked different, as was each of their methods. Maybe they each have a plan that I cannot possibly understand. Has any individual crab ever tried to do it differently? Or each day, every individual repeats their own distinct pattern? I guess I will never know, but it always interesting to wonder.
I love snorkeling. Mostly because the ocean floor feels like a completely foreign world, with so many interesting landscapes and weird creatures to explore. Every reef I’ve been to is quite different and unique in its corals and wildlife. Even the same reef can look different every time you look at it, with new creatures every day. Sometimes I feel as though the creatures are watching me as much as I am watching them, looking at me like I’m out of place. Large schools of fish will cluster around you, or swim past you like a large shimmering wall, wondering what you are. They give you just enough space, so that you could not catch them if you are a predator. Smaller fish, which live in soft corals and anemones are very defensive about their little garden. They will face you, and even get a bit aggressive if you get too close. I give them plenty of space in the hope that they know I am just there to watch. Its a truly fascinating world, and I hope to see much more of it in future explorations.
These Spiral Gilled Tube Worms live embedded in mounds of coral. The spirals which they project out are used for feeding and respiration. In addition to a very interesting shape, they come in an array of beautiful colors, which often makes them the subject of underwater photography. This particular photograph was taken while snorkeling in Malaysia, however, they can be found in many tropical corals around the world. When disturbed or startled, they instantly tuck themselves into their burrow, forcing me to hold my breath while they slowly fan themselves out again. I never would have thought I would find a worm so gorgeous.