One of the biggest highlights of diving for me is the joy of discovery and finding new species. How many people on this planet can say they were the first to see new species of animal – that really is something cool now isn’t it! So far the list is going quite well from walking sharks to sea stars, to tiny gobies, there have been plenty of unknown opisthobranchs and even scorpionfish that are still to this day totally unknown species.
Many scientists find themselves searching for new species all the time, some get lucky and some never get lucky at all. Below we have a few of the more rare species and even a few totally unknown species found on Diving 4 Images trips.
A most unique Opisthobranch!
Did you know there is a sea slug that broods eggs?
A very rare species of opisthobranch, the Melibe coralophilia. This is the only species of sea slug that actively takes care of it’s eggs. Yes, that’s true! As you can see in the photograph here, this species can be seen with an egg mass on the side of it’s body. The animal protects the eggs by curling it’s body around the egg mass.
This species is rarely seen as it is often hidden within hard corals.
Happy hunting and please do keep us posted if you find and/or photograph this nudi.
Totally Unknown Opisthobranch.
This may even be a totally new genus?
This is latest critter to baffle marine life experts.
What is really interesting about this latest find is that it’s not only an unknown species, so far from the photographs that all the experts have seen they all have no idea what genus this is too. Could this really be a new genus of opisthobranch?
This gorgeous little opisthobranch is about 3mm long and was found twice during the same nudibranch expedition. Both times it was found on filamentous green algae. It is incredibly cryptic and hard to see in it’s natural habitat therefore the photo shown was taken using Bernard Picton’s home made nudibranch stage. It was later taken back to it’s original habitat.
Happy hunting and please do keep us posted if you find and/or photograph this nudi.
The first ever sighting and photograph of the Halmahera walking shark.
The walking shark is one of the worlds most unique sharks in that it really does walk. Most shark species swim though species in the genus Hemiscyllium rarely swim, they prefer to use their pectoral and anal fins like feet and sort of crawl along the bottom.
This particular species Hemiscyllium halmahera was first sighted in May 2005 on my first dive expedition in this area. I had invited friends from the Indonesian dive club members Kapal Selam who agreed to join in a great adventure expedition, little did we know we would be the first to ever see this species on walking shark.
Later on working with Mark, Erdmann, and Gerry Allen for Conservation International on other exploratory dive expeditions I learnt a lot more about these sharks. I heard that they are specific to certain areas and as soon as I heard this I went through photographs and alerted Mark and Gerry to this specimen photographed in Halmahera. They were certain it was a new species though it wasn’t till years later that they managed to confirm this by collecting a specimen and doing the genetic work required to name a new species.
The Bryozoan Goby – named Sueviota bryozophyla in 2016.
This little fish is what we called the Bryozoan goby. Shortly after photographing this unusual little fish, photographs were sent to Dr. Gerry Allen who confirmed this as a totally new species.
The species was first found in Ambon early in 2013, then later that same year I found another in Alor. Then only a few months later the guys from Nad Lembeh went searching for this and sure enough they found them in Lembeh Straits too. I have heard that recently this Bryozoan goby has also been seen and photographed and in the Philippines as well.
More news and images on this species can be found in the links below:
New Opistobranch (Halgerda) Species
Upon first glance this looks like a few other well known species of Halgerda. For those who may not have spent numerous years looking at the latest publications of opisthobranchs this could look fairly similar to a few other species of Halgerda such as H. batangas. Though if we take a closer look at the various Halgerda species we can see that none of the other known Halgerda species in any of the opisthobranch publications have the round markings that this species has. So far this species is only known from this one photograph that was taken in Triton Bay in 2012. For anyoen wishing to try and find this species, you contact us about joining one our Triton Bay Critter Expeditions.
If you have found anything similar or have any other photographs of this species please do let us know…
Unknown Eel Species
Another really unusual find for Indonesian waters. This particular eel looks very similar morphologically to the dragon moray from Hawaii.
I first came across this rather bizarre looking moray eel in Komodo during a critter trip back in 2008. This has yet to be positively identified and continues to be another unknown. The difference between this eel and most moray eel species is the elongated tubular nostrils above its eyes. The nostrils makes this look fairly similar to the dragon moray from Hawaii though with very different markings. This particular species has been seen numerous times at the same location and as far as I am aware it has yet to be seen anywhere outside of the Komodo National Park.
Very Rare & Unusual Sea Star
I first came across this unusual sea star in Alor back in 2005 and never found it any books or couldn’t find any information about this online.
After a lot of researching and a sharing a few posts about this animal, eventually a post seen on Wetpixel led to to more news. It was Marine biologist and researcher Pat Colin who put me in contact with Gordon Hendler who confirmed that this really was indeed a very rare and unusual a find, especially in the warmer waters of Indonesia. The closest species found to this would be Coronaster briareus, this species is only known from really deep water.
Usually only known in Asia from really deep waters below 200m and also known from colder water locations like Galapagos and Cocos islands.
Unknown Scorpionfish or is it a Velvetfish or a Waspfish species?
This is another unknown species that was found while diving within the Komodo National Park area. I found this special little fish while on a night dive on Rinca island. I was instantly really excited as I knew I’d never seen anything like this in any identification books and it had to be something rare.
The upturned mouth and huge pectoral fins suggested at first to me that it could be some kind of a scorpionfish of some species. When I sent the images over to Dr. Gerry Allen he mentioned to me that he thought it could possibly be a new species of waspfish.
Whatever it is, it certainly is different and fairly interesting little critter indeed!
Unknown Opisthobranch Species from West Australia
This very different nudibranch, probably a Hypselodoris species was found in Esperance south west Australia. It must have been blown off the nearby reef as it was struggling to get any grip in the shallow surge in this silica like white sand on many shores around Esperance.
It looked very odd until I carefully placed it back onto the nearby reef with algae. As soon as it gained some grip it immediately headed for the algae where it blended in so well I could hardly see it again.
I sent this out to all the marine life experts I know in Australian and none had any idea about this one.
As yet un-named mantis shrimp
This was a creature that I first noticed as being unusual on a reef in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. I noticed the slight different between this species and the red/orange mantis shrimp Lysiosquilloides mapia. I noticed that the eyes were slightly different than L. mapia and distinct small size made it very different from the larger Lysiosquillina lisa.
I came across this again while out on my first dive expedition with Dr. Mark Erdmann who happens to be one of the leading experts on mantis shrimp. Mark and his team of experts were seeking out specific mantis shrimp species and other marine life while working on a genetics survey of marine life around Asia Pacific. After one particular dive I told Mark that I had possibly found him a new species of mantis shrimp. He looked quite surprised at me, I suppose the thought of “huh, you’re a dive guide how would you know what a new species was”. I took Mark to the spot where the mantis shrimp was and he was able to take the specimen. He had said he’d noticed it before though thought it was a hybrid, I asked if a hybrid could hybridise the same in two very different locations and pointed out I’d seen this first in Papua New Guinea. After 20 minutes of looking through his notes Mark confirmed it was indeed a new species.
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