Weird creature of the month – August

Triggerfish snorkeling at the Bida Islands Phi Phi Islands
Titan Triggerfish

Found in lagoons and at reefs to depths of 50 m the Titan Triggerfish has a bit of a rumor about their behavior. Generally they are cool and leave you alone. The titan triggerfish is usually wary of divers and snorkelers, but at times when nesting they can be territorial and will guard their nest with vigor. The female guards its nest, which is placed in a flat sandy area, vigorously against any intruders. Their territory is getting larger by the surface. The area around the nest is roughly cone-shaped and divers who accidentally enter should be careful and watch out what the trigger does. Divers should swim horizontally away from the nest rather than upwards which would only take them further into the area.

The titan triggerfish is a solitary fish. It feeds on sea urchin, mollusks, crustaceans, tube worms and coral. They are the workers of the reef, often being busy turning over rocks, stirring up the sand and biting off pieces of branching coral. This is why you often see other smaller fish species around it who feed on the smaller organisms that are stirred up. They have also been observed being aggressive to other fish who enter their territory.

The threat which the triggerfish faces the intruder with is to hold its first dorsal spine erect. It may also roll onto its side, allowing it a better look at the intruder it perceives as threatening its nest. The titan triggerfish will not always bite, but can swim at snorkelers and divers escorting them out of their territory. The flesh of the titan triggerfish is sometimes.

Stay calm swim away horizontally and once away from their territory they will back off. They have been known to nip at a few divers leaving a just bruise and at times a Parrot size bite. They will show a threat display (Trigger rises) followed by erratic swimming, if ignored a dummy charge then a real charge and a potential bite.

Bites should be taken seriously as they are ciguatoxic. Ciguatoxin is a natural poison which is found on some tropical reefs. It infects fish which feed on marine algae. While harmless to the fish, even small amounts can have a harmful effect on humans.

As a snorkeler you will be observing these lovely creatures from the surface, so take a tour to the Bida Islands and you might find the Titan Triggerfish, there is quite an abundance of this species on our trips.

Kon-Tiki Lanta is releasing a new Android app to support Project AWARE

Andaman Reef Guide diving thailand

“Andaman Reef Guide” is a simple application that holds a database and interesting facts about the species on the reefs of the Andaman Sea.

By purchasing this app for around 100 baht the user will get access to 300 pictures and information about the coral reef. 20% of the profits will go to Project AWARE, a foundation that supports the conservation of the marine environment.

The application is also linked to monthly updates on the Kon-Tiki website that holds more in depths information regarding specific marine species.

The app will soon also be available on AppStore for iPhone.

The application can be purchased here:
http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.kontiki.fishid&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImFpci5jb20ua29udGlraS5maXNoaWQiXQ

Read more about Project Aware:
http://www.projectaware.org/

Weird creature of the month – March

diving thailand anglerfish

Monster fish!

In the depths of the ocean there are many weird critters. One of them is the deep sea Angler fish.

Quick facts.
Her name is Melanocetus johnsoni.
She lives at about 900 meters depth.
Her size varies from about 20 cm to one meter and about 50 kg of weight.
She is not a fast swimmer, so she walks along the bottom.

Only the female has the angler in front of her head.
There are about 200 species of anglerfish found throughout the world’s oceans.
Melanocetus johnsoni is the most famous one.

Melanocetus johnsoni or the deep sea angler fish is a bony fish and named for their characteristic mode of predation, the thing (the esca or illicium) from the head that acts as lure. Some anglerfishe are live in the open water) while others are bottom-dwelling. Did you know that the Goosefish and frogfish are all part of the angler family. They are carnivores and sometimes eat their own. Not a lot of food walking around at 900 meters.

So what happens in the night time!
So how do they do it? Well the males are kind of small if you compare them. They will approach the female in a sexy way and bite them.
So the males are born with extremely well-developed olfactory organs. Olfactory organs is the sensory system used for olfaction, or the sense of smell. The males digestive system prevents them from feeding so they have 2 options, die or find a female. So they will smell their way to the female and bite her, release an enzyme which digests the skin of his mouth and her body, enabling the fusion of two with male becoming a parasite as their blood vessels join. Ending up as a simple pair of sperm releasing gonads he is now totally dependent on the female for nourishment. The female can carry up to six male specimens which makes sperm instantly available whenever she is ready to reproduce.

Looking at the Angler fish you think you might not want to eat this, but in Japan they are considered a delicacy. Actually, they are in north America and Europe as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-BbpaNXbxg

 

Weird Creature of the month – February

Moon wrasse diving snorkeling thailand

Moon Wrasse

Wrasse of the Labridae family is found in the Indo-Pacific oceans at depths of between 1 and 20 m. It has a tendency to stay at the coral reef and surrounding areas. Moon wrasses are carnivorous and tend to prey on fish eggs and small invertebrates. These include various bristle worms, shrimp, young crabs, brittle stars, and even the occasional urchin.

Juveniles are blue on the lower half of the body. They have a black spot in the middle of the dorsal fin and a black blotch on the caudal fin base.

As they mature, the spot turns into a yellow crescent, hence the name. The body is green, with prominently marked scales. Coloration of the head ranges from blue to magenta, with a broken checkerboard pattern.

Moon wrasses are active fish, said to be moving all day long. They are also territorial, nipping, chasing, and otherwise harassing fish that get in their way.

wrasses have strong vision, although they also have a decent sense of smell. At night, they rest in niches often under rocks or other such structures. If needed, a moon wrasse may dig out a space under a rock by repeatedly swimming through it until it fits without struggle

They are protogynous hermaphrodites, all starting off as female and changing to male, a process which, for the moon wrasse, takes only ten days.

Some, but not all moon wrasses live in groups consisted of a dominant male, and a “harem” of about a dozen other wrasses, some female and some male.

The alpha male is brighter colored, and at every low tide hour, he changes from green to blue, and goes into a show of attacking and nipping all the other wrasses. This is his way of showing his dominance to the rest of the males and keeping the females in check. During breeding season and before high tide, the alpha male turns completely blue, gathers up every single female, and the spawning frenzy begins.

Biggest cleanup in the world!

If was early up in the morning of 30th September! This day Kon-Tiki Phuket would be a part of the biggest underwater clean up in the world with more than 450 divers just as many non-divers and 16 dive boats cleaning the reefs of Racha Yai, Racha Noi, Coral island and Phi Phi islands. .

Earlier this year, Tony Andrews, PADI regional manager for west Thailand contacted all dive centers with an idea of doing an underwater clean up. At the first meeting around 10 dive centers showed up for support and within the next couple of months the event just got bigger and bigger. But it was not only dive centers participating. All official government offices were there from marine police and the Thai navy to governor office to tourist authorities of Thailand.

Kon-Tiki left for Racha Noi with around 20 divers. Our task was cleaning up Banana Bay south. Onboard our staff Mikael Stenberg, Mikael Nilsson, Michael Mengel and Jim Chance went through the day’s program with all the other divers. We went through how to collect rubbish, what we should take back to the boat or leave, how to separate it and how to protect the ocean in the future.

First dive went good and with the staff guiding the divers and filling the bags. Then we had time for lunch and ready for the second dive. The biggest thing we found was a fishing net weighting around 300 KG and we estimate we had just about 600 kg of rubbish. We found things like ropes, cans, glass bottle, plastic bottle and fishing lines.

Before reaching the pier all boats who participated gather together at Koh Lon for a group photo. But the day didn’t end there. In the evening everyone was invited to party at Kan Eng 2 in Chalong. We had speeches from PADI and government officials, raffles (I won a dry bag), donations to Go Eco Phuket, free food, free beers, live bands and as the big surprise, JOB 2 DO a very famous Thai band.

In total 15 tons was collected, 450 divers and just as many non-divers, more than 100,000 THB donated to Go Eco Phuket underlined that this was a new world record for most people doing an underwater clean up. Will we do it again – Absolutely!

Kon-Tiki Phuket likes to say thank you to all who participated and anyone else who was involved in this event. Without you we couldn’t have done it. If you have pictures or stories you like to share please send an e-mail to Michael Wallentin at manager@kontiki-phuket.com