Pic of the Day – Ribbon Eel

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Male Ribbon Eel – Rhinomureaena quaesita

Here’s Friday’s funny fish face – a ribbon eel. The above image was captured in Ambon Harbour, Indonesia.

These little eels are a tropical Pacific photographer’s favourite – but, unlike most eels, they are not so easy to photograph. Although they grow to about 3 feet in length, their heads are quite small. They are also an eel that moves a lot, with the action of their head and upper body much like a flame in a strong breeze. Catching them during this continuous movement with a macro lens can be a bedevilling proposition. And, like many other reef creatures that live in burrows, ribbon eels can and do withdraw into their holes on approach. Patience is required to wait for them to come back out again.

Ribbon eels are protandrous hermaphrodites – a fancy way of saying that all start out as males, and then some sex change to female, apparently as a response to social demand/need for females to breed.

All juvenile ribbon eels are black with a (long) yellow dorsal fin. They are perplexing to photograph (as are all things black, especially on a light background) and I have yet to get a shot of one that it worthy of a share. The females are all yellow, and I’ve only seen a couple – I believe they are not very common – males seem to be much more prolific.

PS – Like other eels, the ribbon eel opens and closes its large mouth to “breathe”. They look a bit ferocious – like they are baring their teeth, ready to bite, but no so much – really, the action is more like big gulps. That being said, many eels are capable of inflicting a very painful bite. They’ve been known to sever fingers…

A few more images of this pretty creature:

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Blue Ribbon Eel out of the hole, moving across the reef. I’ve only ever seen this once.

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Female Ribbon Eel

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Check out those nostrils!

About Judy G Diver

Born and raised on the west coast of Canada, I have always felt a strong connection to the sea. But for many years, I stayed on the surface, afraid of what lurked down deep. When I was in my early 30's, with three young children (aka the P's), my husband (aka Mr G) signed us up for a SCUBA certification course, as a surprise. Although I had my fears, my stubbornness prevailed, and somehow I made it through four murky, frigid, cold water dives in Vancouver to successfully pass the course. Soon after we went diving off the west coast of Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez, where my eyes were opened to the beauty and other-worldliness of the life down under. And the rest, as they say, is history. I currently have well over 2000 dives under the belt, and I have been fortunate to travel extensively in Asia, Australia, Fiji, Galapagos, Costa Rica, California, the Caribbean, Mexico and here in British Columbia. After shooting hefty DSLRs for many years, I just switched over to a groovy Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, in a Nauticam housing, with dual Sea & Sea strobes and a bag full of lenses. In addition to this blog and my personal website (Awoosh.com/Directory), which is linked at the top of the blog, my stuff has been widely published in a variety of magazines and websites, including an ongoing regular monthly feature on Scubadiving.com. All links to this work can be found in this blog.
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