Pygmy Seahorse Research
It is great to be back diving the reefs of Wakatobi Dive Resort. I have spent a couple of months here every year for the past few years, and you really get a sense of how the reefs change when you have time away from them. This year ornate and Halimeda ghost pipefish are much more common than I have seen previously. Conversely, there seem to be fewer Pontoh’s pygmy seahorses and robust ghost pipefish. I am usually here around the same time of year, so there must be some other factors affecting their population dynamics.
I am well and truly settled into the swing of diving life here at Wakatobi Dive Resort, although there have been quite a few changes since I was here last. There are many more guides than my previous stays, as the resort now offers private guiding. This allows divers to have their very own guide should they choose this service. This is also good for me, as it’s lots more pairs of eyes searching for pygmies! My active schedule is being fuelled by the amazing cuisine, which includes a combination of Indonesian, Asian and Western styles.
Week one of my time spent at Wakatobi Dive Resort in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, originally written for FiNS Online:
I have recently returned from two trips aboard the Paradise Dancer in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia where I have been in search of the recently described and extremely elusive Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus satomiae). The Paradise Dancer, or Dewi Nusantara as it is also known, is a member of the Peter Hughes fleet and the crown jewel of Indonesian liveaboard diving.
Every week during my two months at Wakatobi Dive Resort between August and October 2009 I wrote a blog for FiNS online. I was at the resort conducting fieldwork for my PhD on the biology of pygmy seahorses. The blog explains what I was up to each week so just follow the links below to each week's write-up:
Week 1 - The weeks ahead
The new issue of Sport Diving magazine (Issue 139) has been released throughout Asia and Australia. I have an article entitled 'Wakatobi Setting the Standard' about some of the work I did there studying the area's pygmy seahorses as well as talking about the amazing diving and resort there.
I have an article published in the February 2009 issue of Sport Diver UK Magazine entitled 'Pygmy Seahorses - Sex and Violence on a Miniature Scale!'. Sorry for the poor quality, it's a scan. Please also note the wrong image was insterded for Denise's Pygmy Seahorse and that I didn't actually wrte the part about the new pygmy seahorse.
My article 'Pygmy seahorses - A Case Study in Marital Bliss?......Not Quite!' is in the new issue of the US magazine Dive Chronicles - The Digest of Diving. I talk about some of the amazing behaviours I have seen these tiny fish get up to and obviously there are plenty of pictures including fighting and birthing pygmies!
My publication 'Mating and birth of Denise's Pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise) observed in the wild' has been published in the hard copy of Coral Reefs Journal. The reference for this is:
Smith R.E. & Tibbetts I.R. (2008). Mating and birth of Denise's pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise) observed in the wild. Coral Reefs 27 (3), 617.
My column 'Really Richard?' continues, this time helping distinguish between two species very dear to me - Denise's and Bargibant's pygmy seahorses! If I happen to be on a trip with you there will be no excuse for not knowing the difference!