Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Introducing Adam Beard PADI Instructor

Adam Beard, PADI instructor malapascua.
Adam Beard
Hello my name Is Adam and I have had a love of the underwater world since I was a young whippersnapperIt was only recently In the last few years that I decided to take my passion and turn It into a full time hobby, Initially I started travelling South east Asia with the intent of seeing the wonderful sights, which i undoubtedly did, however most of my time was spent in the blue. I continued in this manner upon arriving in Australia where I worked on a live-aboard where I did my dive master internship. I then realised that I wished to turn my hobby into a full time job and completed my IDC in the Philippines In Exotic Malapascua.

This truly was a great experience to be around incredibly talented and knowledgeable divers, I learnt so much from my teachers colleagues and now can say very good friends ;) The IDC prepared me very well for the real world of teaching due to i believe a great, teacher. she really made learning a pleasure with great knowledge and wonderful teaching methods. These wonderful methods I recall very well and implement into my teaching today.
I have done several specs with my CD like DUP, Deep, Nitrox, Aware Shark, Wreck and am completing at least another best 7 with her in the next coming weeks. I am looking forward to being back in the lovely classroom with great facility's and lovely people.
I can safely say some of the best diving of my life has been here, with early mornings or any mornings for that matter not being my strong point, the early morning thresher shark dive has to be one of the most amazing experiences I have had, getting up starting the journey out into the stars as the sun rises making the ocean light up with beautiful splashes of reds, oranges, and pinks. followed by diving at monad shoal with really Amazing sharks, and on the way back to the resort seeing our resident dolphins that like to swim along with the bow of the boat. It's just magic! what more can I say?

Adam teaching peak performance buoyancy during his internship at Exotic malapascua.
Adam teaching peak performance buoyancy during his internship at Exotic malapascua.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Amazing Sea Creatures Chapter 1 - Cleaner Wrasses

The cleaner wrasse is the best known of all cleaner fish.They are mostly found in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, living in reefs between 2-40 meters depth. The cleaner wrasse is part of the wrasse family together with 500 other types of wrasse fish. They can be found in pairs or smaller groups and sometimes just one by one. 

The cleaner wrasse grows to about 12 cm in size. All cleaner wrasses are born female, to reproduce, the biggest cleaner wrasse turns in to a male, if this male would die, the strongest one of the survivals will then turn into a new male.

Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasse
There are a couple of different types of cleaner wrasse. The most common one is the Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasse. You can tell it’s a blue streak cleaner wrasse by looking at the different colors: the head is white or sometimes yellowish; the middle portion of the body has a black stripe from head which stretches towards the tail. The “blue streak” is located around the tail fin.

The cleaner wrasses have a very important role in the marine eco system. Their role is to clean other fish, sometimes they are also referred to as dentists! At a coral reef they set up a cleaning station were they remove parasites and dead skin from all kinds of fish. Why you might ask? – This is because these parasites and dead skins are the main food source for the cleaner wrasse. We call this shared interest for a symbiotic relationship as both partners benefit from this behavior. The fish gets cleaned and the cleaner wrasse gets food.

We can see cleaner wrasses clean almost all fish in the ocean. From the big thresher sharks to tthe small anemone fish and sometimes even divers! Because of their important role in the sea they usually don't get eaten by bigger fish, as bigger fish recognizes the particular “dance” performed by the cleaner wrasse when they are ready to swim: moving up and down instead of swimming. So you could say that their roll is giving them some immunity. 

The cleaner wrasse is a very common fish although sometimes they are mistaken with the “False cleaner wrasse”. The false cleaner wrasse is actually a blenny that looks almost exactly like the real one.The difference is that the false cleaner wrasse has a longer snout, plus they also pretend to be a real cleaner wrasse in order to get close to the fish in need of cleaning. When they get close enough they take a bite and swim off quickly!

False Cleaner Fish

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beautiful "Sea Monsters" at Malapascua!

Tiger tail sea horse at Exotic Island dive resort
Tiger tail seahorse at a night.
When diving around Malapascua, you are very likely to see many amazing critters in the ocean, in addition to our world famous Thresher Sharks, of course. One beautiful critter you can expect to come across  is the Seahorse.

So what is a Seahorse? The Latin name for Seahorse is hippocampus. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning "horse" and campos meaning "sea monster". 
However we do find them too enchanting to be called sea monsters!

Seahorses are actually a type of fish. They live in water, breath through gills and have a swim bladder. They do however not have any cardinal fins and are instead equipped with a long tail, which the seahorse can use to hold on to objects as to not drift away in the current.  The Sea Horses most famous feature is, without a doubt, their long neck and snout that points downwards. They also have the ability to change color for camouflage.

Around the world there are between 30 to 40 species of seahorses and possibly as many subspecies. Sea horses are very hard to identify as the sea horses of the same species can look very different. New species are still being found. Around Malapascua we are lucky to have several species to observe. The two most common species we see are the Tiger tail Seahorse (Hippocampuscomes) and the Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti).

Pygmy seahorse at Malapascua exotic island dive resort
Pygmy seahorse hiding in a sea fan.
Seahorses are known to have great eyesight and they are also able to work their eyes independently. They can actually see in front and behind of them at the same time!

By using their great eye sight, they locate their food and then uses their long snout to suck it in. Seahorses  feed on small crustaceans and different kinds of shrimps. If you are diving in area repeatedly, you will probably discover that seahorses are usually found in the same places time after time. A seahorse usually resides in a sea fan or a small coral patch and unless needed to, the seahorse will not move location for many years.

One reason for not changing location can be because Seahorses are poor swimmers. They are mainly relying on their dorsal fins to provide propulsion and use their pectoral fins for stability and steering. Some species have the capability to grow fleshy appendages called cirri on their bodies. This gives them the ability to camouflage as sea weed, or blending in to a sea fan.

Yellow pygmy seahorse at Exotic Island Dive Resort
Pygmy Sea horses comes in many colors,

When it comes to finding a mate, the seahorses are known to bond with their partner for life. After finding a partner the seahorse couple will meet first thing every morning to reinforce their partnership with a elaborate display of courtship. The female meets the male in his territory and as they approach each other they change color. The male circles around the female and then the pair often spiral around an object such as a coral. This can last for up to an hour before the female goes back to her territory.

The Seahorse male is the only creature where reversed pregnancy happens. The female transfers her eggs to the male who then fertilizes them in his pouch. Some species can have up to 1500 eggs! After 2 to 4 weeks the eggs hatch and the baby seahorses emerges.  They are called Fry. From the moment they are born they are completely on their own. Unfortunately less than 1 in a thousand makes it to adulthood.

Common seahorse at Malapascua Exotic Island Dive Resort
Here is a almost white seahorse at
Malapascua Lighthouse.
Sadly most species of seahorses are today endangered because of  the threat from both aquariums,  traditional medicine and souvenirs trade. Yearly, approximately 150 million seahorses are being fished for medicine use alone. 1 million seahorses are sold as souvenirs. Another million are being taken for aquariums were only 1000 survive longer than 6 weeks!

So how can you help these beautiful critters?

First of all - Don't buy any seahorse souvenirs. Second - Boycott any shop that does sell seahorse souvenirs. Thirdly please don't visit shops, restaurants or bars that keeps seahorses in aquariums. Lastly if you can please don't just walk away, please also let the establishment know why you are not using their services. The more people that raise their voice, the more of a reaction we can get!

Want to see your first seahorse or want to capture some more pictures for your collection? Come and visit! Here you will find them in the sea! We also promote responsible interaction so we can all keep on enjoying the privilege of diving with these beautiful creatures!

Yellow tiger tail seahorse at Gato island
A yellow Tigertail seahorse hiding at Gato Island,