Searching Feather Stars for the Masters of Disguise
The waters in El Nido in the Philippines are getting colder... and for divers that means one thing. Ghost pipefish season!
Hence the instructors and dive masters hovering over every feather star for a bit longer than normal.
They are looking for these tiny and extremely well disguised animals. A favourite with macro hunters and photographers these beautiful and unique animals hover motionless in and around the feather stars for protection and hunting purposes.
Ghost pipefish are not actually in the same taxonomic group as the pipefish and seahorse. They are in the Solenostomidae family, while the pipefish and seahorses are Sygnathidae. But they are related and belong to the order Sygnathiformes.
Probably the most famous of the ghost pipefish is the ornate ghost pipefish (also known as harlequin ghost pipefish). With the small spikes and protrusions covering its entire body and amazing colour patterns you can see why it is a favourite. These protrusions act as camouflage, breaking up its outline, so they can be extremely difficult to find.
A juvenile ornate ghost pipefish / Pauline Gast/Fisheye Underwater Productions
Here is a short video by Fisheye Underwater Productions all about the ornate ghostpipefish, from their almost transparent juvenile stage to the fully grown adults on the reefs.
Fisheye Underwater Productions is based in El Nido - to discover more click here