Sep 26

Bonaire, Post Four: Tiny Things

Category: Bonaire,scuba,Travel

Since these pictures are all of tiny things, let me remind you that you can click on them to get a larger image.

One of my favorite things is to find cleaning stations and submit myself for a thorough treatment.  If I’m lucky, a cleaner shrimp will pick over my fingers.  In my experience, only shrimp will do this to people, although if you’re a fish, you get service from all kinds of tiny fish as well as shrimp.

Here is a Peterson’s shrimp, which is mostly invisible and so tiny you’d miss it entirely if not for its neon blue stripes.  There’s some physical comedy in the jaunty way these guys will hop onto your finger like a Navajo brave hopping onto the back of a wild pony.  They’ll comb over the crevices in your skin, picking off little flakes and debriding cuts and scrapes with unbelievable precision.  They never hurt you.

These little guys usually live within the protective tentacles of a corkscrew anemone, which mirrors the shrimp’s mostly transparent body, but has white highlights that seem to hover like a cloud of zebra-striped marshmallows.  I love how the Peterson shrimp’s eyes bobble about and pop frantically in and out as it cleans them in the shrimp equivalent of blinking.

Here’s a close-up of a corkscrew anemone, without the shrimp.  They are really super-transparent.

Check out this tiny little secretary blenny, maybe 5 millimeters high and only a few centimeters long.  It was popping in and out of its hole to grab its even tinier plankton prey.  It looks like a character from the Simpsons.

Here is a bouncy little boxfish juvenile, which swims in any direction it chooses seemingly without moving any part of its body, like a perfectly hovering  and nimble dirigible.

I love the furious “expression” on this fish’s face (a type of damselfish, I think).  He’s about an inch long, and fast.

The prime paradox of coral reefs is that although they’re huge, they’re made by tiny animals.  Check out the polyps on this one (sounds kind of filthy!).  They look like, and pretty much are, little anemones with special capabilities.

Another coral paradox is how the machine-like regularity of identical polyps gives rise to sinuous, organically non-linear patterns and sensuously curved surfaces.

Christmas-tree worms like to live in coral heads.

These tube sponges look like something Dr. Suess would have drawn.  A number of different species of sponge have this long, tube-like form.  They aren’t small, but since they provide such a convenient place to live, small things live inside of them.

The last thing I have to show you today is this lettuce sea slug, a beautiful creature saddled with an ungraceful name.


1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Talkingtostones September 29th, 2011 8:07 PM

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Love the story of shrimp cleaning and all the little details you shot. Always amazing how many tiny things are busily going about their tasks and we barely notice, if at all. Such delicacy in these almost invisible creatures. I’m so glad you caught them to share.

    The boxfish is adorable, like youngsters tend to be — looks like he’s whistling! Cute. Thanks!

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