Thecacera sp.

Photo courtesy of Webmaster
Photograph taked at Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, Oct. 2000

This year, Christmas came early for San Diego underwater photographer Bob Yin and myself as we traveled to Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia for explore the high diversity of marine life found there. Bali falls within the "High Diversity Triangle," an area formed by the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia known to have the highest diversity of marine life in the world. We certainly weren't disappointed in this respect.

There isn't much to be said in a taxonomic sense regarding this week's subject as it is undescribed at the present time. I first became acquainted with this particular animal by way of Takamasa Tonozuka's picture in Helmut Debelius's Nudibranchs and Sea Snails Indo Pacific Field Guide. As luck would have it, one was spotted while setting up to take a picture of a Harlequin shrimp in a sandy area at about 45 ft. Against the dark volcanic sand this animal was difficult to see but fortunately took up residence next to the shrimp which afforded more detailed examination of the shrimp's immediate surrounding. Scientific technique at its worse I suppose, just plain luck!

The geographic range of this animal includes Indonesia and Malaysia but probably extends further. This animal was previously previewed as Branch of the Week (BOW) for week 177 .

Tulamben is now one of my favorite branching spots. My only regret at this time is not having visited the area sooner than 1998 after having been told about the wonders of the spot early on by veteran Australian underwater photographer Roger Steene in 1991 while on a trip to Madang, PNG. The area is heavily frequented by not only land based diving operations but also dive boat operations. The combined onslaught can put a lot of divers in the water at the same time. Guess the message is that if you plan on diving Tulamben, don't put the trip off too long! In my humble opinion this fragile area is being impacted by sheer volume of divers, irrespective of regulations set in place to protect the marine ecosystem.

San Diego, CA
Dec. 2000

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