I have a column in FiNS diving magazine starting this issue (Jan/Feb 7.1). It is called 'Really Richard?' and helps you to identify commonly mistaken reef species. This month explains how to distinguish stone and scorpionfishes.
One of my pet peeves is the misidentification of members of the scoprionfish genus Rhinopias (family Scorpaenidae). There are 3 members of this genus that are commonly seen by divers in South East Asia - Rhinopias aphanes, Rhinopias eschmeyeri and Rhinopias frondosa.
I have recently returned from a trip aboard the Mike Ball boat Spoil Sport to the Coral Sea. The Coral Sea is located off the east coast of Australia off shore from the Great Barrier Reef's ribbon reefs. The itinerary included the famous Cod Hole, where huge and very friendly potato cod were very obliging photographic subjects. We then headed to Osprey Reef where mega fauna were numerous. It was nice to see sharks, large fish and even a manta. These have unfortunately become very rare in Asia due to overfishing.
I have an article about nudibranchs in the current issue of Asian Diver Magazine, which is on news stands throughout Asian now, and will be hitting Australia in the next couple of weeks. Nudibranchs are an amazing group of marine molluscs, ok that's a fancy way of saying slugs. They have much more to offer than the ordinary garden variety. Nudibranch hunting can make the most average of dives an interesting challenge!
Whilst on a night dive aboard the Paradise Dancer in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia recently I came across this unusual velvetfish. I consulted Dr Gerry Allen, the world renowned fish expert, who confirmed that he had never seen a fish like it and that it may well be a new species. He is going to keep his eyes peeled for a specimen to do a formal description, as am I.