Clownfish 25 June

We have been very busy with guests, broken outboard engines, extra curriculum trips, so I haven't had time to get in the water until today. The wound is looking good, fishie is happy, swimming around and eating. 

The lump is still big and still pushing the eye out and down a lot, but it looks like new skin is growing around the edges. Lets hope the cleaner shrimps don't do too much damage when they are cleaning!

On the way back to the beach, I spotted this little decorator crab. It was tiny, maybe 15mm tall at the most, and that without that "antenna" on the head!

Shark mating season???

On Monday, I joined our guests on the dive boat. It was a public holiday in PNG (Queens Birthday), which is always a good excuse to get out of the office and into the water!
We went to Albatross Passage, probably our best dive site. Once the currents run well and run in the right direction, i.e. in, this is fish soup. It was no different on Monday, with stacks of barracudas, jacks, sweet lips, tuna and sharks.
The interesting bit was that it seems to be shark mating season, with sharks chasing each other along the reef. At one stage, there were three sharks swimming along, like a small train. Unfortunately, the sharks didn't come close enough to take any even half-decent pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Clownfish 13 June 2010

Dietmar and I were meant to go out on the boat, joining our guests, since it's Sunday and we should have some time off, too, every now and then. However, as is so often the case, something came up and the dive boat left without us. Bugger!!
Once we had dealt with another one of those PNG-moments, we decided to go for a shore dive. After all, our house reef has close to 200 different species of fish identified, so there is plenty to see. I could also check on "my mate" again, so off Dietmar and I went.

I reckon it looks much better again, so lets hope we are not going to have another relapse! There was a bit of a current today, so lots of food zooming past, which he happily snapped up. All this time that I've been watching him, he seemed pretty happy, despite the disfiguring lump on his head, the bulging eye and the discomfort both must bring with them. He is a little battler, that's for sure!!

Clownfish 12 June 2010

Wow, what a few days can do! Have a look at these pictures, taking only 5 days after the last one, the one where the wound look quite raw. Now, it looks much better again, so my hopes are up, again!

The eye still worries me, though. It looks so painful, the way it's pushed down and out. Lexa says she has seen fish recover from something like this, so that's good news. I'd love to take the fish, cut away all the junk, pop his eye back in and be able to say "There you go, my dear, all good again!" Unfortunately, it's not that easy, but the cleaner shrimp were at it again today, so lets hope they manage to clean up the wound some more. Or are they the ones causing more damage now? According to Lexa, cleaners can also turn into parasites, so these buggers may actually do more harm than good if they peck at the wound every time it is starting to heal.

He still eats happily, as this picture shows !!

Clownfish 7 June 2010

I have just returned from a long stint in the US, attending a dive show, visiting a number of travel agents and having a bit of a holiday. I couldn't wait to jump in the water and visit my little friend to see how he is doing. The photos that Nozaki had taken while I was away looked very promising, so I was quite disappointed when I saw that the wound looked quite angry again.

I had hoped that the fish was well on the way of recovery, but this doesn't look very good at all!

Clownfish 27 May 2010

Two weeks later, the wound still looks good and more new skin seems to be growing around the edges. Fingers crossed, everyone, lets hope the little guy will recover from whatever this lump on his head is!

Clownfish 12 May 2010

Dietmar and I are away on a working holiday, so I've asked Nozaki, our Japanese dive instructor, to keep an eye out for our little fish. This is her first picture, taken approx. 3 weeks after the last one. As you can see, the wound seems to be healing, it looks like new skin is growing on the edges.

Clownfish 26 April 2010

Amazing how the cleaner shrimp made the "crater" bigger and bigger. Just 4 days ago, the hole wasn't quite as big, don't you agree? Lets just hope that the shrimps got all the bad stuff out, just like a surgeon removing a cancer!!

Clownfish 22 April 2010

Remember how I had said  that Lexa was really  excited  about the picture with the one cleaner shrimp cleaning the clownfish? Well, you can imagine what happened when she saw this photo, with no less than 4 shrimps cleaning the wound, and another 2 waiting patiently for their turn. Interestingly enough, the clownfish didn't seem to mind the shrimp picking at the wound. Maybe the fish knew that this might help?

Saddleback Clownfish 14 April 2010

Six days later, on 14 April, I jumped in the water again to see how the little fish was doing. To my surprise, the growth had "popped" and there was now a small crater.

The next picture had Lexa all excited as one of her study fields is fish cleaning behaviour. Here, we have a cleaner shrimp of some sort (Periclimines sp.), cleaning out the wound. Apologies for the rather poor quality of the image, but I was in such a hurry to capture the symbiosis that I didn't pay much attention to whether the photo was in focus.  

Saddleback Clownfish with a funny lump

Over Easter, I was teaching an Open Water dive course on our house reef at Lissenung Island,  Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. On one of the dives, we swam past a sand anemone with a residing saddleback clownfish family. I had noticed the clownfish before, as the biggest one has a slightly unusual colour. This time, this particular clownfish had some unusual spots on his back, near the spine. I had a closer look at those, then noticed that the fish also had a lump over his left eye. I didn't have my camera with me, so a few days later, once I had completed the dive course and had time, I jumped back in to take the following pictures. Luckily, the fish lives just off our beach!

                           8 April 2010, growth over left eye, with the eye pushed down and out slightly.

I had no idea what this growth could be, so I asked our friend Alison Green, who is a senior marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy. Alison is incredibly knowledgeable on fish species, but even she wasn't sure what the little fella suffered from, so Dr Lexa Grutter, Coral Reef Ecologist at the School of Biological Science at the University of Queensland, joined us in our quest to find out what had caused the lump. Without doing a biopsy, though, it's almost impossible to work out what the problem is, so Lexa suggested that I catalogue the various stages of the growth and how the fish copes. At one stage, some of Lexa's colleagues, who had also been called in to provide their opinions, gave a rather sad prognosis, but Alison, Lexa and I are still hoping that the fish would eventually recover. Ali is also the one that convinced me to write a blog, so thanks Ali!