Time has again flown, and yet another eventful week here at Wakatobi Dive Resort has passed. Unfortunately the news from the group of pygmy seahorses whose behaviour I have been observing is not good.
We have had some unusually strong currents on the House Reef, which I actually witnessed in action on a couple of occasions. Even after four months every day watching the behaviour of pygmies on the same gorgonian sea fan, I’ve never seen currents like this. The gorgonian looked as if it would break at any moment and was bent from a vertical to almost horizontal position. The poor pygmies were clinging on for dear life (as was I) and I was not entirely shocked that after several days of these conditions only one pygmy remained.
One pygmy seahorse is obviously not excellent for observing social interactions, so I began the search for a new group. I have certain criteria that must be met in a potential group. They must be easily accessible, not too deep, and at this point in my study, I am searching for different group sizes to see how behaviours change according to the number of individuals and pair bondings. Luckily Wakatobi’s House Reef has abundant pygmies and I found two suitable groups.
Just along from the jetty bar I found a pair of Denise’s pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise), and some way along the reef in the other direction a group of six Denise’s pygmies. I’ve already spent time observing a pair, so I have decided as of today to start with the sextet.
They are quite far along the reef, but I can’t pass up this opportunity to study such a large group. The currents have already died down a lot, so I hope to be able to get there without too much stress. I have only two weeks remaining here, so I will really have my work cut out for me gathering enough information in that time!
In other news, I made the shocking decision to put my wide-angle lens on for a dive. The reefs are so colourful and vibrant here it is sometimes quite frustrating that my macro lens stays firmly on my camera in case something important happens pygmy-wise.
I went for the morning to a site called Blade where I conducted some observations, then we stopped off at Magnifica for the second dive. I have dived this site often, and I knew the pygmies well enough to know they wouldn’t miss me for one dive!
I was lucky that there was a slight current running that encouraged the soft corals to open their polyps and show off their full splendour. The reefs really are a kaleidoscope of colour here, and Magnifica is one of my favourites.
So, keep your eyes peeled for the week 7 blog, when I hope to have some updates from the new gorgonian. Meanwhile, I have new images on my website and new ones are going up whenever possible.