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. There seems to be almost daily sushi and sashimi dishes, freshly caught by the local fishermen.

I am continuing with my studies, and on my first dive surveying the House Reef I found a group of Denise’s pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise). I am now observing this group as part of my study into the social and reproductive behaviours of the species. They have been very active and I am busy working out when they will be giving birth next. I have narrowed it down to 7 or 8 September…so only a few days to go! There are two males and two females on the gorgonian, so it will be interesting to find out who pairs off with whom. It’s a like a daytime soap opera in the lives of pygmy seahorses!

(Note from FiNS: Please excuse Richard. He doesn’t get out and socialise with humans much).

The weather has been great lately and the windy season passed very quickly this year. We look forward to the weather improving further over the coming weeks. This morning we went to one of the most remote dive sites called Blade. The journey takes you between two reef systems over some very deep water, where it is common to spot pilot whales and spinner dolphins.

Unfortunately, despite the mirror-like water, we didn’t spot any today. There have been some other cetacean spottings recently though. The Pelagian, Wakatobi’s own liveaboard, had sightings last week of a pod of sperm whales, and some guests were able to get footage of them in the water!

Some other sightings within the past week have been several species of ghost pipefish (robust, ornate and Halimeda), the recently named Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse, and a giant frogfish on the House Reef. Yesterday I went to a site called the Zoo and was approached by a black-tip reef shark several times before it went about its day. It is great to see that some sharks are able to hold on in Indonesia, which has been at the heart of the shark-finning industry for twenty years.

The week ahead holds more of my pygmy seahorse behavioural observations, and I hope to spend a little time at the dive sites Roma and Table Coral City, which people are raving about at the moment! Meanwhile I am updating my website with images fairly regularly, and my research blog is presently on the Wakatobi website.