Besides specific critters, behaviour stands on the top of our guests bucket lists. And among the most requested behaviours there is always the “everything with eggs”. For a good reason: Images of critters with eggs have a strong message and are more striking than simple ID shots. Here is a short overview of frequently seen “egg carriers” in Lembeh Strait …
Nudibranchs are rather slow moving and tend to not swim away when approached by UW Photographers. And they are just at slow when it comes to laying eggs. So yes, they don’t carry their eggs around, but the process of laying them takes such a long time that it still makes a very good photo opportunity. Nudibranch lay their eggs typically in spiral formed ribbon bands. Some of them even in attractive red, pink or yellow colours. Besides the laying of the eggs, there are also Nudibranchs that feed on the egg mass of other Nudibranchs (for example the Favorinus family).
In Lembeh Strait the most common fish carrying their eggs are the Cardinal fishes and Jawfishes which carry their eggs in their mouth and the ghost pipefishes which carry them in a pouch between the pectoral fins. All three of them make great behaviour shots – specially if you have a too long lens on your camera to shoot the whole fish.
Another great spectacle that should not be missed out on any Lembeh Trip is the mating berhaviour of the Mandarin Fish. Like most fish, they swim up in the water column to release sperm and egg mass – but they do it every day at the same time and at the same place.
Pretty much all crustaceans can be seen carrying eggs on a regular basis in Lembeh Strait. No matter if shrimps or crabs – they all carry the egg mass under their abdomen and make even greater photo subjects than without. Some just carry the typically coloured transparent eggs, others have brightly coloured eggs like the Boxer Crabs. But eggs as Photo subjects can also have practical reasons: The tiny Hairy Shrimps for example gain some extra body mass and get easier to photograph.
Octopus, Squid and Cuttlefish are also commonly seen in Lembeh Strait but the Octopus is clearly the best one to photograph with eggs. Cuttlefish and Squid lay there eggs and swim off and are therefor not so easy to photograph together with their eggs. Images of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish eggs are a traditional trophy among Lembeh Visitors – but i tend to not photograph them and try to encourage people also to not do it or at least limit the amount of photos. The strong focus lights, strobes and video lights sometimes make the eggs hatch in an unnatural moment which reduces the chances of survival extremely. Not worth a photo i think. Octopus with eggs are a great spectacle though … they carry them for a good while and make excellent photo subjects. Most commonly seen is the coconut octopus with eggs … but sometimes you can get very lucky and see a Blue Ringed Octopus, Mimic Octopus or Wonderpus with eggs.