Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coconut Crabs!

For today, I'd like to introduce the coconut crab. As the name implies, this strange crab lives in cococut trees and eats coconuts. It is a very strange animal. It can be found in Indo Pacific, as well as the south Pacific. I've heard that people have fallen asleept on the beach, only to wake up to this monster chewing on their ears! I got pictures of this guy before he was sent to a Chinese seafood restaurant in Bali. The owner of the restaurant is a friend of a friend of mine. He actually had about 100 of these things in small cages in his backyard, ready to be sent to his restaurant. I was told these crabs had come from Papua (Irian Jaya).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coral of the Day - Trachyphyllias!

Hello everyone, today's coral is the beautiful open brain Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. This particular coral has only one genus and species. Sometimes due to environmental differences, the skeletal body is flat and coral has a circular shape. Here in Indonesia, the flat bottom morph is known as Wellsophyllia radiata. It even exists separately from Trachyphyllia on the cites. No one knows that this is the same coral. I'm not sure where the name came from, even Dr. Veron doesn't mention "Wellsophyllia" in his Corals of the World book. Again, like the scolymia and cynarina mix up, the wholesalers in the US also sell this coral as a Wellsophyllia, or sometimes known as the Bali brain. The fish and wildlife officers have caught on to the mix up and now are confiscating any trachys that are sent under Wellsophyllia. I talked to them personally and they are firm on the issue. They don't even want to see "Wellsophyllia on the cites! Again it is hard to change the system here in Indonesia, but I'm slowly making headway. Something interesting about this coral among the fishermen and suppliers (these are people that buy from fishermen and sell to the exporters), the red and green morph is known as a Bali brain. The green morph (very common) is known as the Java (pronounced Jawa) brain.

These pictures are from a shipment I just sent to the US.

The before common red and green, two tone morph of the "Wellsophyllia" has vanished in the trade and now is very rare. It is probably the rarest coral here in Indonesia. It sells for 8-10 times the old price, if you can find one. I've been on an adventure trip trying to find this coral, but that is another topic.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Coral of the Day - Cynarina Deshayesiana!

Today's coral is the highly sought after Cynarina Deshayesiana. This coral is normally known as a scolymia in the hobby. This mistake of identity roots back to the exporters here, thinking that it is a scolymia. They sell it as a scoly and the wholesalers also sell it to the retailers as a scoly. But now the Fish and Wildlife officers have caught on, and are confiscating them if they are sent under scolymia on the cites. They want to see this coral sent under Cynarina Lacrymalis. It's been tough trying to convince the people here of the mistake.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fish pictures!

Here are some pictures of fish at our Bali facility

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coral of the Day - Ricordia Yumas!

Here are some pictures of Ricordia Yumas that I've exported.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kuta - Bali!

Hello everyone. Today, I would like to talk about a popular area in Bali called Kuta. It is about 15 minutes away from Denpasar, where the airport is. This is the tourist destination of Bali. The streets are lined with shops, restaurant/cafes, night clubs, etc. Back in October of 2002, this area was hit with bomb explosions in two popular nightclubs. It killed 200 people and injured many others. Most of the victims were tourists. Five years later, the tourism is coming back. This year has been a record year for number of tourists visiting Bali since the bomb attacks. There is no sign of the bombings at all and everything seems normal. There is one exception, before parking into one of the shopping malls or places such where people congregate, security uses mirrors to check underneath cars. Then before entering the mall, a quick check of purses or bags from a security with a metal detector.

Kuta is probably most famous for the beach, kind of like the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. It is a fun place where you can swim, surf, fly a kite, or just hang out. There are food and drink vendors selling anything from coconut juice to beer. You can rent a surfboard and learn how to, from one of the many local operations on the beach. Local guys like to hang out and play soccer, trying to get the attention of female tourists.

Locals walk around the beach hustling everything from puka shell jewelry, temporary tattoos, fruits, kites, and quick massages. Me and my friend got hustled in very quickly the first time I went to this beach. I was interested in buying a puka bracelet for my wife from one local lady. The next thing you know, we had six or seven ladies around us trying to get us to buy all sorts of stuff. One was giving me a massage and one was offering fruit. In the end, being nice guy that I am, I gave each of them some business. I know I was hustled. I even bought fruit, at ridiculous prices. Actually it was a grandmother trying to make a living in the hot sun, so I bought all she had. Oh well, it was an experience and at least I made some people real happy that day. The ladies actually remembered me, as I went to the same beach with my wife a few weeks later, and some of them recognized me. They just smiled when they saw me.

Besides all the shopping in the small little outlets on the streets, the malls have something to offer as well. The shopping malls in Indonesia rival the best that I've seen in the US. I'm from the Bay Area and been to all the nice places there. For the most part Bali malls have everything and even more. There are stores that I've never even heard of in the US. These places sell very high end clothing and goods. Another good thing about the malls, they are packed with cool cafes and restaurants. Starbucks of course is here, but local cafes seem more busy. It is probably because of the price. Starbucks sell high priced coffee. They promote beans from exotic places like Java, Sumatra, Sulawessi, etc. Too bad these are all local islands and everybody here knows it. Very few people, at least in the US, know that these places are actually Indonesian islands. For example, Java is the main island of Indonesia. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta and is located in western part of Java.

Overall, Kuta is a fun place to hang out. The locals are very friendly and the atmosphere is comforting. I actually stay in Benoa, about 40 minutes away from Kuta. Me and my wife like to go there at least once a week to hang out.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. We really don't have turkey here, so we eat fried chicken. On the same beach, on a different day, I encountered a fisher couple. This wife and husband evidently makes a living by catching ornamental fish and inverts and selling to local exporters. In one bucket, they had a variety of dottybacks and a beautiful clown tang. For sure it was net caught. The couple would go venture into the tidepools and catch anything that happen to go into their nets.

I started to look into the plastic bags of inverts, and wow a white pipefish caught my eye. I've never seen this pipefish before. It turned out that you can catch these guys in the tidepools, and nowhere else. Way cool! We (me and my business partner), bought all the livestock from these people. They were so happy, as we gave them a little extra. I really feel bad for them, but there is not many choices for the local people.

One interesting thing that they carried around was this tire inner tube. It turned out to be filled with oxygen and they would reox from time to time to keep their livestock alive. Just another trick of the trade I guess.

The highlight of that day was when I caught this tiger striped mantis shrimp.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Coral Notes of the Day : Zoos and Palys

"Heya Eddie! Question for you. those orange Zoanthids in the first shot: Where abouts were they collected, do you know? I.e. deep or shallow water, clear or mirky water, surf or surge or calm water? Just curious, they are GORGEOUS! :) Cya, -Jeremy (Who Dah?)"

Hey Jeremy, nice to hear from you. I decided to link your question to a new post, as this is a very good question.

The zoos are from Makassar, Sulawesi. I'm not sure about the depth they were collected from, I will try to find out. From my experience in Tonga, the zoos were collected in around 15-20 feet of water. The water conditions were always murcky and nutrient rich with poor water flow. All of our corals were collected in clearwaters except for the zoos. Strangely enough, the palys were always found in more clear waters, such as near the surf line. Sometimes our divers would find batches of them on rocks, but always in clear water with good or fast flow.

The water conditions in Makassar are not that clear. The visibility is poor, compared to the South Pacific. There seems to be alot of nutrients/plankton in the waters. Maybe this explains why so many nice lps comes from this area. The water current around the islands here are moderately strong. This area has another type of deep orange/red zoos that is super crazy. I'll see if I have a picture of it.

Here are some pictures of palys that I found on a local beach in Bali during low tide. This area is flat with rocks and tidepools when the tide goes out. These palys were found around 100 yards from the shore, growing on the rocky floor. Another 15-20 yards out and I could see the drop off. This area has a mix of palys and the smaller zoanthids. The water was only inches deep and some palys were exposed to the hot sun. When the tide comes in, the local fishermen tell me that it is around 15 feet. The current is pretty stong and basically you can surf on it if you wanted to. Oh yah, and the water is crystal clear. Keep in mind that water around Bali is a little cooler than most of the other Indonesian islands. Also the sun is not as intense. It can get blistering hot in Sulawesi though.

One time, in band camp(just kidding), me and my wife were snorkeling off the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, near the Cambodian border in the gulf of Thailand. We were only in 3 feet of water from the sandy shore and we hit a huge patch of zoos (mostly). The whole bottom was covered and all I could think about was taking a few of the rainbowed(is there such a word?) gems. The water was somewhat murky and the current wasn't too strong.

In conclusion, in my experience, there doesn't seem to be any consistency in where the zoos and palys are found in the reefs. From calm nutrient rich waters to high current clear rocky surfs, they seem to be everywhere. Of course the best thing would be for hobbyists is to try to find out where in the reefs that particular polyp came from. So he or she can place it accordingly in their reefs at home.


Corals of the day - Palys and Zoos

Today was a hectic day. After receiving the last batch of corals last night, I woke up at 6 (only slept for 3 hours) to supervise a shipment to the US. Not speaking the local language is a big problem for me. Usually my friend is with me to translate but this morning he had something to do. This shipment was supposed to leave last week, but we were unable to get space on the planes. This is one of the most common problems for exporters. It was even worse in Tonga, relying on only one airline. At least here in Indo, there are more choices. I remember a shipment from Tonga to LA a few years back. The shipment left and got offloaded in Samoa, and nobody told us, until our customer called. The plane stops at Apia, Samoa before leaving for the US. We got our shipment back a day later. It was horrible, we lost a week of collection and sales. Think we can get compensation from the airlines, think again, not so easy. I won't mention the airline, but I think the rugby team "All Blacks" is what they are famous for.

About a month ago, a shipment to LA on an Australian airline had maintenance problems. The shipment was stuck in Australia for 30 hours. It almost took 3 days to reach its destination.
Still, it tells you how strong corals can be if handled and packed properly. We had 30% doa (dead on arrival). So next time you buy that special coral from your lfs (local fish store), take very good care of it. It has traveled many miles sitting in a plastic bag with a little oxygen to get to your fishtank.


Aquaculture Northern Bali

November Corals Collection Part. 1

November Corals Collection Part. 2

Aquaculture - November Shipment

Coral Showcase - September 2008 Inventory

Holding Facility's Corals Collection Showcase 2007