Stargazers and Christmas Trees

Christmas only comes once a year for the terrestrial inhabitants of mother earth however in the underwater world Christmas trees are on display 365 days a year !!

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The kaleidoscopic Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobarchus giganteus) often festoons many species of the ‘massive’ stony corals such as Porites and Brain corals. These tube-building polychaete worms live in a tube like body formed by a calcium carbonate exoskeleton that the worm secretes after having bored into the coral.

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As Christmas Tree Worms can’t swim around to respirate and collect their food the Christmas Tree Worms have two feathery appendages also known as radioles that collect and filter the microscopic zooplankton & phytoplankton organisms as they drift past, these feathers then transport the food into the worms mouth.

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They are the most fantastic creatures and a hit with every underwater photographer, chiefly because they are so colorful, with amazing forms and intricate textures, also they don’t move about unless suddenly frightened, when in a blink of a festive eye they disappear back into their tubes, only to slowly and elegantly reappear seconds later unfurling their coiled radioles once again….

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Many children at this festive time of year are looking up into the heavens desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus as he flies through the starry night sky with his Reindeer propelled sleigh…..well they are not the only ones stargazing…!!

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The White Margin Stargazer, another ambush predator very popular with the critter and muck diving enthusiasts visiting us here in Indonesia, lies buried in the sand also with eyes directed upwards toward the twinkling stars of the ocean bio-luminescence waiting for unsuspecting prey to swim or crawl overhead, these fish are also venomous with two spines located behind the head.

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There are 51 species of Stargazer with sizes ranging up to 90 cm with the Giant Stargazer (Kathetostoma giganteum). Some of these friendly looking fish can deliver a bolt of electricity to their victims instantly immobilizing them so they can be devoured whole by the gigantic mouth, you wouldn’t want to see that coming down the chimney !!!

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Merry Christmas everyone and the All4Diving Indonesia team wishes you a fantastic and fabulously fish filled 2015 !!