Bali Underwater - Ghost Pipefish

 

The Underwater Ghosts - Ghost Pipefish

Well there are times in our lives when everything seems up side down and we can’t wait until it gets back to normal.,Fish I want to write about today spends large part of its life floating and perceiving the world around it self just this way, mouth pointed downwards, virtually motionless and it seams do not mind the craziness of the down side up world at all. Most of the divers I know just love these fish. Colourful and distinctive, small and delicate, motionless and elegant, blended so well with their surroundings that they are near-impossible to find and if one wants to see it the only chance is practically to drool over the dive site. Life of a Ghost Pipefish starts as a larva adrift on the currents of the oceans just after it was carried as one of the 300 eggs by female in special pouch under pelvic fins during the incubation period. This method no just protect the offspring but it allows the female to move her young to a site which is favourable for survival with less bigger hungry predators during the developmental stage. At first, the fish will be transparent and than when when breeding time comes around, a murky, muddy bottom or a coral reef is the habitat of choice. Here they change not only their colour, but also their shape in order to camouflage themselves even better.

Pipefish are related to the seahorse and there is few kinds of pipefish in it the family like Harlequin ghost pipefish, Robust ghost pipefish, Banded pipefish and Flag-tailed pipe fish. This strange looking little creature usually grow up to 15cm but that does not make them any easier to find. Normaly if we are lucky or very skilled underwater trappers we can see them living around crinoids, feather sea stars, gorgonian fans and branching black coral bushes. Here they live and feel safe very well camouflaged by their complex colour patterns and body shape. Anyone who really wants to find them will have to be very patient and fond of looking at feather sea stars for long periods of time.Typical colour patterns of ghost pipe include dark red with yellow and orange patches and yellow with lighter spots. Ornate ghost pipefish are sexually dimorphic that means they have mama and papa. The females are an average length of 130 mm which means they are on average 37% bigger than males and I believe they need the size advantage for the egg load they have to cary every time they want to try for new offspring.

Because they are relatively weak swimmers, rapidly fanning their little fins for propulsion, they tend to stay within very small territories. Even though the fins provide accurate navigation and precise positioning of their bodies, their range is extremely limited. If Ghost Pipefish gets hungry they feed on tiny crustaceans and they sucked them inside through their long snout. Normally we find them in shallow tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, mainly near coral reefs, rocky drop-offs or seaweed beds. They are usually observed in 3-25 metres but they do not mind the deeper water too. In Bali at Ok Divers we can find them on nearly every dive site we dive although there is time when you can see them more often and there is a time you do not see one for ages.