Asteronotus cespitosus (?)

Photo courtesy of Webmaster
Batangas, Philippines
April 1996

Asteronotus cespitosus (van Hasselt, 1824)

This week's BOW is a stroll down memory lane when the Webmaster was actively diving the Philippines. The magic spot this time was right in front of where we stayed at the time. Back then, we made arrangements of with a group of owners (most of whom worked for ICLARM when it was still in the Philippines) and consular folks who had a compound of bungalows, kind of a loosely knit condominium association with the name SeaFari. The association was a few miles or down the way from the village of Anilao, Batangas, Philippines. The site is now a water front vacant lot with a few forlorn palm trees. The owner evicted the Seafari association some years ago with the idea of developing the parcel but not much of anything happened. With the passage of time, most dive masters came to refer to the site simply as "basura".

Anyhow, to make a long story short, all the trash the local threw in the water made for an interesting habitat for all kinds of creatures. It got so interesting that we once entertained the idea of forgetting the day dives and going out at night only. It was not unusual for divers (especially Marc Chamberlain) to change film, strap on another tank and hit the water again after the first night dive!

One night back in '96 as Terry Gosliner and myself were making our way back to Seafari at the conclusion of our night dive, I spied the above guy sitting out in coral. We both looked at it for some time before deciding to take pictures and bag it. Terry thought at the time it was a color variation of Asteronotus cespitosus . We never saw a similar specimen again. The color variation theme is now an active research project at the California Academy of Sciences.

So, are you ready to buy your tickets and visit this magic spot? Think again! Recent reports have it over dived and not really worth the time to visit at the present time. Actually it is rather a fragile setting, with soft sand and the debris! Imagine that, calling a "dump site" an endangered location. Well, it was great for "muck" diving back then. Let's hope it comes back!

Mike Miller
San Diego, Calif
July, 2005

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
March 2005

Ali Hermosillo and Dave Behrens

Author: Pacific Coast Nudibranchs
Co-Author Coral Reef Animals of the Indo Pacific
Proprietor of Sea Challengers Natural History Books

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