Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Jan DiveTrip to Mindoro "Black-blotched Puffer" Day 6.4`

Jan DiveTrip
Day 6.4

At the base of a drop off some 50 feet down I spotted something, perhaps just a bit of movement. I poked my camera behind the edge of some kind of cone shaped sponge or coral that was about three feet across at the top, and there in the viewer was a huge bulbous unblinking eye surrounded by green skin followed a second later by a fluttering yellowish pectoral fin.

In the video this fish has a huge head that immediately tapers down to its tail. The fish is not quite two feet long and it looks to me like a cross between a fish and a leopard frog, because of its oversized eyes, frog-like skin and head reminscent of a blunt nosed ampphibian. It has no scales, instead it looks to be covered with smooth skin at the head where it becomes wrinkly and pocked and pored toward the rear with spines that lay flat, almost invisibly so. It has the look of some ancient species. I’m curious to know what it is. It’s definitely a puffer an extremely shy one.

Okay, I spent several days poring over one internet photo after another of scores of different types of pufferfishes, and believe me, worldwide, there a LOT of pufferfishes. After all that picture studying though, I'm around 95 percent sure that this bashful fella is a black-blotched porcupinefish. They can grow longer than two feet and this one is a little over half that long. The several informational sources claim that they are nocturnal; during the day they tend to hide along reefs and rock faces. The description matches up well with the one I saw, and physically it also matches up pretty close with all the photos I found, except for the one in wikipedia that shows it to be tan colored instead of the leopardfrog dull green color that my porkypinefish happens to be.

I took several videos of swimming lion fish, always a treat for me. In one I was able to follow beautiful specimen all around a rock for most of a minute. These fish
are so majestic and look so unlikely that I am captivated everytime I catch sight of one.

The more dives we do from this spot the more we have begun to know the terrain. For instance, when we swim through a bone white sandy spot consisting of bleached coral
fragments with very little muddy silt we know we have found the area directly to the front of the end of the pier and always, regrettably, it signifies the end of the dive.

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