Sunday, 29 October 2017

A Motherhood Strategy: for fish

female emerges from sponge

This is probably a one-of-a-kind photo. Larry took it on November 17 2007. It shows a fish emerging from an orange sponge having laid her eggs inside it to try to protect them from predators. We'd already heard about this - biologists in BC had observed this behaviour with tiny 'gobies' - a small darting fish emerging from the orange finger sponge - ' neoesperiopsis rigida'. To our knowledge, no-one else has captured it on film.

The photo was taken during a dive at Bahia Moore here in Patagonia, Chile.

How do you find an encouraging divesite? Travel here in Patagonia is difficult and sometimes impossible.
For navigating on all 3 of our trips here, we've been using the 'Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide' (by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi). Although not concerned with scuba diving, they've listed over 400 usually safe anchorages. Known as the 'Italian Book', this book is now used with gratitude by all yachts-people who travel here.

Once we get to a listed anchorage, we carefully study the chart in combination with searching the shoreline - hoping to find a steep rocky cliff near which we can tie or anchor Traversay III.

For identifying underwater species, the new (2009)and comprehensive book is 'Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia' edited by Vreni Haussermann and Gunter Forsterra. It supersedes the smaller Gu├Ča de invertebrados marinos del litoral Valdiviano (Zagal, Hermosilla y Riedemann), Mariscos y peces de importancia comercial en el sur de Chile (Lorenzen, Gallardo, Jara, Clasing et al) and our guide about the similar BC species: Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest (Andy Lamb & Bernard P Hanby).

The Chilean book was compiled with the help of over 40 specialists, help from biological institutions around the world, and with many photographers, translators, divers and environmental groups here in Chile. The work load for the editors has been massive, and the resources have been slim. Time is limited to adequately identify let alone protect the amazing biodiversity still unexplored here in Patagonian Chile. More international interest and support from around the world would help these researchers get to these sites, dive them and quantify and properly investigate the species. What's needed is a modern 'Calypso'-type vessel. You can find out more if you look up 'Huinay Scientific Foundation'. It's based in Puerto Montt Chile which is where many vessels spend the Chilean winter.

myxicola infundibulum - slime tubeworm
We offered to take a Chilean diver (he would pay only for his food) when we dove here in 2009, but at the last minute he bailed out. It was too late to find anyone else and our Canadian identification mentors (who had also been invited) couldn't come.

Since the Benthic Guide is so international, we don't believe that divers and photographers from other countries would be prohibited from collecting here and the guide offers a complete PROTOCOL which must be followed by any interested divers to properly collect so-far uncollected species. For us: we're now at an age where guests aboard for an extended period is a huge drain on our energy. That shouldn't stop other divers and photographers from different countries from collecting here!

janolus sp. nudibranch
Here are just a few animals and locations we've seen so far in the same location which are not identified or pictured in the Guide:

myxicola infundibulum (slime-tube feather-duster). This rather unattractively named species of tube-dwelling worms lives in rock crevices. It's a filter-feeder and when you approach, it pulls in its pallid crown leaving a jiggling mass behind.
WHERE: Pozo Delfin (S coast Canal Baeza … Arch de Chonos) S 73 47.01 W 044 29.39

janolus rebeccae or janolus sp. (nudibranch) We identified this beautiful animal as 'rebeccae' on our previous trip here ... perhaps through the kind help of Dr Paul Brickle who worked for the Department of Fisheries in Stanley, Falkland Islands. The Chilean guide states that no Janolus had been collected South of the Golfo de Penas as of the publishing date.
WHERE: Caleta Ideal (N end of Canal Messier) S 47 45.4 W 074 53.5

For your own photo of the mother emerging from the sponge:
WHERE: Bahia Moore (E Coast of Canal Sarmiento) S 51 45.15 W073 51.9 But you may wait a long time!

At 2017-10-29 12:35 (utc) our position was 52°40.45'S 073°45.73'W

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