Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Joe Dickinson finishes up his underwater series from Moorea with several invertebrates:

Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica) were plentiful in our part of the lagoon, almost always in association with threespot dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatis).



To give an idea of scale, when in a “closed” position, as below, these anemones are about the size of a soccer ball or even a basketball.


In this closer view, refraction through surface ripples makes patterns of rainbow colors.


Here are the gills of a spiral-gilled tube worm (Spirobranchus giganteus), protruding from a coral head.


I am fascinated by the diversity of colors and patterns (due to symbiotic algae) in the mantles of giant clams (Tridacna giga).  Even close neighbors can be quite different.  These clams also typically are imbedded in coral.






These clams have hundreds of simple eyes and retract the mantle if they detect motion nearby.  Here is that last clam above after being startled.


The weirdest sighting this trip I at first took to be a giant, free-living marine worm, but it turns out more likely to be an enormous, elongated sea cucumber (at least two meters in length) similar to, if not exactly, the tiger-tailed sea cucumber (Holothuria hilla).


You can see tentacles around the mouth above right.  When I waved my hand to direct a current at the “head”, it pulled in as below.


Here is a closer look at the tentacles when they opened back out.  I would estimate the diameter of the main body at about 6 – 8 centimeters).


Finally, to prove I did occasionally get out of the water, here is a nice scene from the interior of the island.



  1. kansaskitty
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Amazing, and beautiful! Thank you for sharing, especially since I don’t dive and this is the only way I will ever see these magnificent sea creatures.

  2. George
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The link at the top of the post is wrong. It goes to the post “Ark Park: a meme.” The post previous to this one is Sunday’s Hili Dialogue.

  3. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    These photos are beautiful – god they make me long for the sea, and a set of snorkels…

    Seeing the underwater world like this, with the colours, and the dizzying, starling-like clouds of fishlets separating, swooping, recombining – it’s a ‘spiritual experience’, along the lines of first taking LSD, listening to Sgt Pepper’s or combining pastrami with coleslaw.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Fascinating! I wonder especially about the different colors of symbiotic algae given to the giant clams. Could this be a matter of differences in histocompatability? Or perhaps the symbionts are clones of a few randomly absorbed algae cells that are established early in the clams’ life, and so different combos of algae –> different color effects.
    Just wondering…

  5. Chukar
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I spent some time on Moorea about 40 years ago and vividly remember the wonderful invertebrates, including the large anemones that seemed to be wearing a rubber girdle.

    I also had the privilege of being gleaned by a cleaner wrasse while I hung upside down from a submerged coral head (buoyancy rules!), and a large grouper waited his turn not far away. The wrasse presumed it was my arm hair which needed removal.

  6. Posted July 10, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    The clam lips are hypnotic and stunning. Thanks for those.

  7. Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, Joe and Jerry. Thanks to you both.

  8. JoanL
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Those clams …. wow! Yes, thanks.

  9. Mark R.
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Great group of photos. The tube worms are especially cool. I’ve never heard of Moorea so thanks for the link.

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you. 🙂

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