Short Trip, Small Creatures, Big Productivity

Thoughts for the blog following a recent stay.

by Alex Mustard


I’m a Lembeh Addict. I am happy to admit it. Although I’ve been on a diet recently, foregoing regular visits to Lembeh and South East Asia in general, over the last three or four years to feed in less photographed, and often colder waters. But, boy, is it good to back.


Hairy Frogfish © Alex Mustard

Hairy Frogfish © Alex Mustard

Visiting Lembeh wasn’t actually in my original travel plans for this trip. I’m in Indonesia to run a Photography Workshop on the Indo Siren in Raja Ampat. But once Lembeh was whispered in the planning, I knew I had to squeeze it in. Even though I only had time for 3 diving days.


Is there any point in making such a short visit? Absolutely. First, if you’ve never tried muck diving, a short stay can be safer, because not everyone falls in love with it. This was the first time I have taken Eleonora to Lembeh and I am fortunate and very pleased that she totally adored the diving: her “best ever”.


I’d loved to have been here for longer, but shorts trips can still be hugely productive here. I never arrive in Lembeh with a wish list. Instead, I like to find out what is particularly or unusually abundant at the moment and concentrate on those subjects. Knowing I’ll see plenty more subjects on those dives anyway.


Sexual selection – a driving force in marine systems?

Prey are well adapted to evade predators, and predators are correspondingly well adapted to catch prey. For most of us it is pretty reasonable to accept that such adaptation happens by natural selection, leading to long-term evolution of animals, making them better to either catch prey or evade predators, whatever end of the food chain you happen to be on. Thus natural selection affects traits such as foraging efficiency or anti-predator behaviours that lead to longer lives, quicker growth rates and, both directly and indirectly, higher reproduction rates. Most of my earlier blogs have more or less built on the assumption of natural selection affecting adaptations of animals.

Bright warning colour on nudibranch. Probably a result of natural selection favouring nudis clearly advertising their poisonous properties.

Bright warning colours on nudibranch. Probably a result of natural selection favouring nudis clearly advertising their poisonous properties.

There is  another kind of selection, sexual selection, that is a little bit harder to understand. Sexual selection is the process where traits that directly affect the likelihood of securing a mate is changed over time, leading to the evolution of traits that sometimes seem to act contrary to natural selection in that sexually selected traits rather decrease life expectancy and growth rates. There are many examples of traits governed by sexual selection on land. Bird song, brightly colored males in many birds and lizards, antlers on deer and males adapted for fighting other males for access to females are examples that we all can relate to. It is thought that sexual selection in terrestrial systems are well as important as natural selection in shaping many aspects of populations and also a major force in driving speciation. (more…)

TK delivers!

Whenever you visit the same dive area several times, some dive sites seem to consistently deliver more than others, and, correspondingly, some less than you would wish. Here in Lembeh my favorites are the Aer Bajo sites and Hairball, where many uneventful starts of dives have been turned around to Read more…