Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gone Fishing Part 2!

Hello everyone. So after days of slow internet connection, I'm finally able to upload pictures. It did take three hours just to upload these, so you can imagine the frustration. So now let's continue on to my favorite fishing hole!

After walking along the slippery rocks for fifteen minutes, we arrived at my fishing spot. It looked like the tide was at stand still. That means that the tide had stopped going out and soon the water would come back in.

I rigged up one of the fishing poles for my friend, so I could go look for crabs while the tide was still out and the rocks exposed.

The fishing is not as good when the water is all the way out. When the water starts rushing in between the center rock and the rock on the right, the fishing gets really good. I figure that lots of food gets rushed in with the tide in this channel and the fish just lie around in the front and wait.

As soon as my friend Loren casted, he gets a bite and lands this little greenling sea trout. It was exciting since it was the first cast and first fish. All Joyluck wanted to do was to play with the fish!

A closer shot of the greenling. These fish have to be minimum of 12 inches in length to keep, so this one was thrown back.

I left Loren with fishing while I went to look for crabs. I had some time to kill since the tide hadn't turned yet. Check out this beautiful little starfish that I encountered as soon as I stepped down from the "fishing rock".

The red crabs love to hide out in crevices and holes in the rocks. I caught a glimpse of a red shell in such a spot. I stuck my camera in and took a picture. A crab waiting for me to pull him out!

Here I'm getting ready to put my hand in to get the tasty little crustacean out!

It can get kind of eerie sticking my hand in unknown places, not to mention I have to pull the crab out without getting pinched. Sometimes I touch something slimy and moving and then it really freaks me out!

This hole in the rock was way in, I had my whole arm in. The trick is to turn the crab around and grab it from the back and pull him out. Not an easy task, considering I can't see what I'm doing. But I've been at it since I was a little kid, so I no longer get pinched!

And here he is, pretty pissed off that I stuck my hand in his home and pried his butt out while he was resting! Check out those claws, they can break bone!

Other than crevices and holes in rocks, these crabs also like to hang out under loose rocks.

Check out what was clinging to the rock underside. Small abalones and black turban snails. The white little things look like small barnacles.

And on the bottom of the lifted rock, a red crab hiding in the sand on the top right corner. He soon went in my bucket!

Typical starfish of temperate waters off of the California coast. These starfish come in usually two colors, orange and purple.

A gorgeous bat star! This one reminded me of back in the aquarium service days when I used to take care of a cold water reef tank in an aerospace lab. It had starfish like this in it.

Another type of starfish. This one actually has some blue in it. I don't see too much of this species, and it was the only one of its kind that I saw on this trip.

I think it would be worth while setting up a coldwater reef if you live near the coast. You can keep starfish like this in it. But make sure you get special permits to be able to collect these and take home.

A giant closed up sea anemone. It looks like an alien eye looking at you!

Check out this rock encrusted with pink coralline algae! Beautiful! In our reef tanks at home, we usually end up growing purple coralline. Liverock from the wild that has pink or red coralline usually ends up loosing its color in our tanks. But the purple coralline still can maintain its color pretty good. I remember I set up a 125 gallon reef for a customer of mine. I set it up and she took care of it. I sold her all the additives and chemicals she needed to maintain the water chemistry. After about 8 months, she was moving and she couldn't take the tank with her. She had sold off the livestock and wanted to bring back the 200 lbs. of liverock that I had sold her. She just wanted her rock to go to a good home. On the phone, she simply said that her rock didn't look like other rocks at my shop.

Holy mackerel! She brought in 200 lbs of pure neon pink rock! It was literally pepto bismol color. For some odd reason, her tank conditions allowed this hard to grow calcareous algae to flourish. It was incredible. I sold off all the pieces within two days. People couldn't resist the color. Of course all the pieces, including some I put in my display tank, all lost its pink and turned white. Eventually purple coralline would grow over but never that crazy pink again. That was the only time I ever saw rock covered with that much pink coralline algae. If you have pink coralline growing in your reef tank, consider yourselves lucky!

As I took the picture of the pink rock, I noticed something moving from the side. It was an arm from an octopus!

I quickly lifted the rock and pulled out the slimy little guy! It wasn't very big and started to run away fast. I've seen big octopus around these waters before. When I was a little kid, I caught one that was at least four feet across. This one was just over a foot. I used to come out at night to these rocks and see what was lurking around. It is very interesting and there are these tiny little octopi (puses) that walk around on the rocks. They are all white and I think they are a different species. Of course I tried taking some home to put in my little saltwater tank, but they all died!

I tried picking it up but it turned on its back. It was clinging to my hands!

And here he is, heading for a small tidepool. Kind of creepy looking! I remember back in the Tonga days when the locals used to go out on the reefs at lowtide and catch these guys for food. It is a major steady diet there and the way they cook it, is delicious. My favorite is when they cook it with the black ink. After done eating, you look like you just got done chewing on a stick of charcoal!

As soon he entered the water, his coloring changed to camouflage himself to its surroundings. Way cool!

Ok that is it for today on this topic.

Now for some coral pictures!

Another nice wild pink millepora colony. Notice I broke off a frag- just kidding! This piece broke off during transit. Many times corals travel for days on a bus, with not so good packing!

Nice bullseye mushroom rock! These happen to be green with purple edges.

A very attractive pair of Cynarina lacrymalis! The translucent tissue is truly beautiful.

Cynarina desheysiana. These are often mistaken for scolymias. The red on this one is metallic in color!

Ok so this odd looking thing is called a tiger sponge here in Indo. I have my doubts on the id. If anyone can positively id this, please let me know. It is sensitive and can rot and turn black very fast. It comes in many different color morphs. Evidently it is hardy once it acclimates in a reef. It is quite beautiful!

A raspberry aquacultured millepora from Sarangan, Bali Turtle Island! Notice the new growth whitish tips.

A large deepwater tabling acropora. Typical of the deepwater tables, the edges have color but the base is brown. This one is an Acropora caroliniana.

A killer wild blue- purple millepora colony with green polyps!

A cute little wild colony of Acropora loripes. The base color looks brown in the picture, but actually it is green. Under halides you can see the true colors.

A large tabling Acropora desalwii. Always one of my favorites!

Check out this tabling millepora colony. It almost looks like a tabling cytherea. I had to take a double look. The whitish tips will probably look baby blue under 20k's!

Another stunning Montipora confusa! The plating tips on the right side are perfect for fragging!

A beautiful little wild colony of Pocillopora verrucosa. Another sps that is looked down upon among sps keepers in the US, a shame!

Another beautiful Pocillopora species. This one is a P. damicornis. It is purple and green. Glows under actinics. This and the verrucosas are the most common in this genus. I remember back in Tonga waters when we used to go catch flame hawks. Flame hawks only live in huge Pocillopora eydouxi colonies. Some of these giant stony corals are three feet tall and it takes some skill to get the small red hawks out. The hawks are extremely territorial and will fight to keep off other homeless hawks. It is a shame that in places like Tahiti, these ancient old corals are decimated to get the flame hawks out. The locals were never taught how catch fish without destructing the reefs. This was one of the reasons why we brought out Steve Robinson to teach our local and Filipino divers how to catch fish without damaging the corals in Tonga.

Guess what species this is? If you guessed Acropora nasuta, you are right. This one is pink with purple tips. For sure an extremely hard coral to keep colored. I remember the ones from Tonga, you look at it funny and it turns brown!!


Ok that is it for today. If the internet allows me, then we can finish off this "Gone fishing" series. I hope you enjoyed the coral pictures too!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Gone Fishing Part 1!

Good day everyone. Today I like to talk about a fishing /crabbing trip that I took when I was still back in the US. Fishing is my true passion, then comes corals. Before I went into the fish business, I was contemplating on commercial fishing. This way I can do what I truly liked and make a living at the same time. After some research though, the prospects didn't look good. I decided to go into the aquarium business and then go fishing afterwards. So whenever I get a chance, I take my dog Joyluck and head to the beach!

My favorite spot on the California coast is a lighthouse called "Pigeon Point". It is about an hour south of San Francisco off of highway 1. On certain days of the month, tides are low enough to access this rocky shoreline. I have a favorite fishing hole here and I've been coming out to this spot ever since I was a little kid. I guess this is where I got my early start in aquarium keeping.

So me, my wife, Joyluck, and a friend Loren, got up at five in the morning to head to the beach. The minus low tides are usually in the early morning and it took us two hours to get there from where I live in Dublin. We did take a small breakfast stop at Mickey D's too. We arrived at Pigeon Point Lighthouse around seven am and the tide was way out already. Joyluck was jumping up and down in the car, anxious to get out and run around in the sand. It has been a long time since I've taken Joy out to the beach. But she knew the area right away! We had to get out there fast as I knew the tide would turn soon!

We parked near a telephone pole and there was this big sign warning not to eat mussels and clams. During the summer months, a natural phenomenon call "red tide" occurs around the coast of California. These signs are posted everywhere along the coast. Basically an "algae bloom" occurs in the warm months off the coast. Filter feeders like mussels and clams feed on this phytoplankton. The bivalves that feed on this toxic algae, become poisonous themselves. People can die from eating such infected specimens. The mussels and clams eventually get rid of the toxins when the algae bloom stops. Usually in the winter months, it is safe to eat the bivalves. For more info, you can check out this link.

A view of the shoreline from the road that we parked. The rocks that are sticking out is where we want to be!

And here we are getting ready to walk down to the beach. Notice I have waders on. This comes in handy when I have to walk through tidepools looking for crabs.

Down on the beach, the first thing we noticed is the beautiful iceplants. On the other side of the hill, is where we parked.

A closeup of the iceplants. The ones here in Bali are much smaller and thinner on the green branches. But the flowers are just as beautiful!

Down on the beach, my dog is happy as she can be! First thing she does is to run around in circles, pretty funny to watch.

As we kept walking, the sand stops and the rocks dominate the shoreline. My adrenaline was pumping as I haven't been out here in years. Before I started going overseas, I used to come out here all the time.

Huge patches of seagrass exposed at the upper tide level.Some big rocks at the upper tide level. At first no growth to look at.

But a few yards in, mussels and barnacles! This is where the water reaches the shore furthest during high tides. Hm, I wonder how much toxin is in those mussels?

A little closer down the shoreline to the water and we can see all these little sea anemones closed up. They are lucky today, as it is overcast and the clouds are blocking the sun. But either way, they have plenty of moisture to keep them wet until the tide comes back in.

Three huge anemones! Look at the size difference between these monsters and the smaller ones. One of them is half way in the small tidepool.

Back in the early days of fish keeping. I managed to dig an anemone up from a sand bottom and take it home to put in my 10 gallon saltwater tank. It lived for three days. I was twelve years old!

Some old abalone shells. These used to be common years ago but now only a few remain. Those few that do remain, are always in danger of poachers. They cannot be taken along the California coast, except in Northern California. There is a strict quota limit and a short season. Fish and Game officers strictly monitor the activities and even set up road blocks to search every vehicle for over the limit or licensing problems. There are three main species of the abalone on the Pacific coast. These are the black (small), the green (medium) and the red (large). The large red Haliotis rufus are huge, sometimes measuring 12 inches across. The Asian restaurants will pay big dollars for these. A large one can go for $100 a piece! So poaching (illegal take) is a big problem. Fish and Game officers usually patrol these rocky areas during very low tides for poachers. I've been approached by them while fishing on the rocks many times! I didn't even see them coming. Or sometimes they just wait by the cars for the fishermen to return. Once I had my whole truck searched in and out! I guess that is one of the good things about the US, everything is monitored and enforced.

Some common black turban snails. I also tried keeping these in my early years. They did better than the anemone. I think they might be able to acclimate to warmer water if the process was long enough.

The first crab of the day! And Joyluck found it crawling around the rocks!
It was a small one and I let her play with it.

The coldwater anemones can get very beautiful too! Under some actinics, this anemone would probably glow!!

A porcelain crab hiding among the seaweed. One of my customers/friends is a super expert on these unique crabs. He has a doctorate in Marine Biology and his specialty is the porcelain crab. His name is Jonathan Stillman and he even gave a talk at my shop to the local reef club, BARE. He is a passionate reefer and a good guy all around. Once he joked to me, "hey Eddie, do you want to apply for the head position at Steinhart Aquarium with me? They are looking for someone who is a scientist and a practical fish keeper at the same time. I'm the scientist and you can be the practical fish guy." Ha! ha!, it was pretty funny. Jonathan runs a research lab in Tiburon California. You can check out this link to his lab.

A common chiton. I was looking for the giant gumboot chiton that has the "butterfly shells" on it's back, but couldn't find one.

A crab hiding out in a tidepool. He was the first one to go into my bucket. There are two main red crab species that live here. This one is the Cancer productus, the bigger of the two species. The real big Dungeness crab that is famous at Fishermen's Wharf in SF lives out in the ocean sand bed and are not found on the shores. Juveniles however use the SF bay as a nursery ground, and they are protected and illegal to take inside the bay. The red crabs have no season and can be taken all year long, unlike the Dungeness crab which has a season. Both crab species have a minimum size limit and no females of the Dungeness crab can be taken.

A sun star! This slimy soft starfish can move extremely fast! The number of arms on this starfish seems to vary. Once I found one with 21 arms!

An underside view revealing it's tube feet. No wonder it moves so fast, look at all the tube feet on each arm!

Now let's have a look at some more corals!

This Acanthastrea rotundoflora was pretty beat up when I left for the US. It has healed nicely and even the green rim is starting to show, typical of this coral under artificial lighting.

A cute little wild colony of an Acropora millepora. This one is pink with green polyps!

An aquacultured piece of the "ultimate stag". This coral looks so beautiful when it is in the water. I remember seeing it underwater with snorkels at the Turtle Island aquaculture farm.

A large branch of a tabling Acropora loripes. It is common here, but still nice!

A large colony of Acropora tenuis. The thin branches and the stunted growth form tells me that this piece was found in deeper water!

A large killer colony of another millepora! Notice the whitish new growth tips on the edges. You can clearly see the green highlights inside too!

Another deep water tabling acropora. This one is duper dark green. It would glow under halides for sure!

Check out this large piece of Acropora granulosa. If I could, I would cut all the purple tips off and then put it back in the sea for new colored tips!

Bali aquacultured tenuis! Always color up and easy to keep. Even small pieces like this are fragged into many branches in the US. Patient reefers don't mind to wait for years to reach a certain size.

Another Bali aquaculture! This one is an aboltanoides. It literally has three colors, green, purple, and pink! Killer piece that would do well under halides.

Another nice piece of Montipora confusa! I'm sure the purple rim would turn very purple under some halides.

Acropora samoensis. Again the ones from Fiji and Tonga are difficult to keep it's color. But this Indo Pacific piece should do just fine. It actually has better colors than what the picture shows, but need lots of light. This and the humilis species are normally found at the crest of the reefs. Sometimes they are even exposed at low tides!

A bad picture of a very nice coral. This is a wild colony of an Acropora horrida. It is light purple with real bushy white polyps.

Another killer piece of an acropora! This one broke off of a main piece somewhere in the reef. It looks like the edges had been broken off before and it regrew back. Nice raspberry tips!


Well I hope you enjoyed the first part of my fishing trip. Part 2 will have my favorite fishing hole and what we caught! Of course as usual, I will post more pictures of corals at the end too.


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