Questions and Answers 2006
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Added 31 December
Question by Gareth Randle: I came across this +2m shark at Pyramid Rock recently, and I'm not sure if it's a raggie / nurse shark or maybe even just a huge pajama shark...any ideas??
The shark in question is the spotted gully shark, a harmless larger shark regularly found at Pyramid Rock. For more details click here.
Added 31 December
Question by Wilhelm van Zyl: I saw two nudibranchs at Star Walls which I cannot identify, can you help?
The nudibranchs are Mandela's nudibranch and the tan dorid, both species which are regularly seen in deeper waters on the Atlantic. For more details click here.
Added 14 November
Question by Erland and Niklas von Maltzahn: We came across 3 small fish +- 5 cm long and hovering at a 45 deg angle on our decent on the SAS Transvaal at a depth of 5.1 m yesterday. What is it?
This is the juvenile of the dorado, or dolphinfish. For more details click here.
Added 14 November
Question by Ros Morgenrood: I came across this rather boisterous character in Kungkungan Bay in the Lembah Straits off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in July 2006. Its eyes and mouth appeared to glow and it watched us divers very closely, happy to pose only for a moment before dashing off to check us out from a distance. I am interested in finding out what kind of fish it is and whether it is found outside of the Celebes Sea region. Are you able to help?
This is the false stonefish or devil stonefish. It occurs throughout the Indo-Pacific area, generally on rubble or sandy bottoms. For more details click here.
Added 14 November
Question by Robert Wilson: Could you help me identify a few fish from False Bay?
The fish shown is the juvenile of the bank steenbras - the other one is the comber, a moderately rare fish in our area, but seen more and more often lately. For more details click here.
Added 14 November
Question by Andrew Taylor: This fish was photographed in the Red Sea, what species is it?
It is the bigeye emperor, a wide-spread tropical species. For more details click here.
Added 14 November
Question by Nick Turner: What is the name of this jelly?
This is the red-banded jellyfish, which was abundant for some time in False Bay, to the extend that it forced some boats to slow down in order to avoid fouling the props! For more details click here.
Added 16 October
Question by Wilhelm van Zyl: This was seen in the Lembeh strait in Indonesia, and it looks like a nudibranch, but is it?
Actually it is not. While it does look like a specific species of nudibranch, it is a sea cucumber mimicking the nudibranch. For more details click here.
Added 16 October
Question by Adriaan Johnson: What are these two fish, about 10 cm long, seen on the side of the wreck of the Oratava at about 30m?
They are both Cape triplefins, classic examples of Cape Town's often cryptic fish life. Similar to klipfishes and blennies, members of these three groups are often hard to tell apart. The differences are often subtle, and require careful observation. For more details click here.
Added 8 October
Question by Pierre Niehaus: We saw this on a dive near Sipadan, Malaysia - what is it?
It is a salp, a free-swimming tunicate. It belongs to a group called the Urochordata, to which the ascidians (red-bait and similar) also belong. Salps can be both colonial, forming long chains, or solitary, like the one shown. For more details click here.
Added 25 September
Question by Grant Whitford, contribution by Adriaan Johnson: Spider crabs are often found sea fans, often well covered and barely distinguishable. What is it that grows on them? For more details click here.
Added 3 September
Question by Liam Bell: I saw this fish at a dive at A-Frame - what is it?
This is Arothron inconditus, the bellystriped blaasop. It is known to occur only from Knysna to East London, so it is a visitor in our waters. For more details click here.
Added 3 August
Questions by Wilhelm van Zyl: I saw a nudibranch at Aliwal Shoal, a crab and type of scorpionfish in Sodwana which I cannot identify, what are they?
The nudibranch is Glossodoris symmetricus, the crab is Coral crab, and the fish indeed a member of the scorpionfish family, the yellowspotted scorpionish. For more details click here.
Added 25 June
Question by Grant Whitford: I found this nudibranch on a dive in southern Mozambique but what species is it? I promise I have not changed anything with Photoshop.
This is Phyllidia ocellata, a species which occurs in most tropical waters. It is known to rather variable in appearance. For more details click here.
Added 25 June
Question by Hanief Ally: Is this a santer?
Yes, it seems to be the juvenile of a santer, Cheimerius nufar, indeed. It is not a resident. For more details click here.
Added 25 June
Question by Hanief Ally: Is this a juvenile zebra?
No, it is not, although given the pattern one could easily think so. It is actually the juvenile of the jutjaw, Parascorpis typus. For more details click here.
Added 19 June
Question by Niklas von Maltzahn: I've been seeing this nudibranch on numerous occasions in the past few weeks. Never on shore dives but on almost every boat dive. Sites that I've seen it at include the Oratava, Rockeater and Whittle Rock.
This is the frilled nudibranch, Leminda millecra. For more details click here.
Added 19 June
Question by Andrew Travis: I saw this shark in the shallows off Castle rocks towards the Pyramid side. Reckon it was about 50-60cm. Pretty sure its a catshark, but I still haven't been able to find out which species.
It is indeed a catshark, specifically, the dark shyshark Haploblepharus pictus. For more details click here.
Added 19 June
Question by Diane and Gary May: What are these "flower-like" growths we saw at Windmill beach?
It is an ascidian, or sea-squirt - a relative of the red-bait. For more details click here.
Added 12 June
Question by Adriaan Johnson and Andrew Taylor.: "Andrew and I were discussing this oldish pic of mine taken at Quarry. Is it a flat worm?"
No, it is not - this is the mantled keyhole limpet. For more details click here.
Added 16 May. Updated 21 May.
Question by Ettienne Kotze: is this a sock anemone? We photographed it at Pyramid.
No, it is not. The base of the sock anemone is also striped, but the rest of the body is not smooth, but rather quite "furry". For more details click here.
Added 20 April
Question by Andrew Taylor:: is this a nudibranch?
No, it is not. While similar visually, it is quite a different animal, namely a flatworm. For more details click here.
Added 8 April
Question by Cindy Halliday: What is this? Is it a juvenile something? The estimated size is about 10mm.
It is a ghost nudibranch Lecithophorus capensis, a rather drab member of the Polyceridae family. Generally quite small, it is easily overlooked. For more details click here.
Added 19 March
Question by Nico Snyman: What species of nudibranch is this?
This is the scribbled nudibranch, Doriopsilla miniata, an infrequently seen species. For more details click here.
Added 19 March
Question by James Florence: What species of klipfish is this?
This is the speckled klipfish, Clinus venustris, one of the more common species. Highly variable in colour, it has some of the prettiest eyes of all klipfish. For more details click here.
Added 18 March
Question by James Florence: Do Nudibranchs actually live on anemones or is this little one being munched?
This nudibranch, the silvertip, Janolus capensis, feeds on bryozoans and not on anemones. It most likely ended up where it is after having been carried by a surge. For more details click here.
Added 18 March
Question by James Florence: This was photographed on the wreck of the Pietermaritzburg - what is it?
This is redbait - a large single individual, and nicely grown over. For more details click here.
Added 18 March
Question by Cindy Halliday: What nudibranch is this?
This is the white-edged nudibranch, Flabellina capenis, a moderately rare species which feeds on hydroids, like the one it was photographed on. For more details click here.
Added 12 March
Bobtails Several times people have asked about these small squid or cuttlefish which may be encountered over the sand at some divesites. They are actually neither squid or cuttlefish, but bobtails, a member of a completely different order within the cephalopod world.
For more details click here.
Added 17 February
Question by Andrew Taylor: Found this at Coral Gardens on Saturday. Seen something similar on the Fleur and Whittle Rock. A sea cucumber?
This is not a sea cucumber, but an anemone! Called the "sock" or "walking" anemone, it moves around to find its sessile prey, soft corals. For more details click here.
Added 17 February
Question by Andrew Taylor: I photographed a few nudibranchs close to the wreck of the Gelderland, what are they?
Of the three, we think we can identify one, but the other two have us (and those much more in the know) baffled! For more details click here.
Added 17 February
Question by Guido Zsilavecz: We saw this fish at Castle Rocks. About 5 cm long, what could it be?
A question from SURG to SURG - we are not sure - we think it is a juvenile pufferfish, but not that of the common evileye pufferfish - maybe somebody has seen it before, and knows what it is? For more details click here.
Added 2 February
Question by Pierre Niehaus: this was seen on the way back from Photographers reef, what is the yellow back striped thingy?
This took us a while to figure out - turns out it is a nudibranch of the family Arminidae. There are a few known local species which are mostly white, but this one is quite different, and is most likely to be a new species! For more details click here.
Added 2 February
Question by Juergen Buchelt: this tooth was found on Blouberg beach, and from the shape and size I guess it originates from a great white.
This is a fossilized tooth. Such teeth can be found occasionally on Blouberg beach and other locations. Being fossilized, it may not necessarily be a great white, but could be of one of its ancestors. Different shape teeth have been found before. The origin of the teeth, that is, why they are found only in a few spots and not others, is not completely clear. For more details click here.
Added 2 February
Question by Dave Couperthwaite: this fish was seen at Windmill, what is it?
It is a flutemouth. Seen previously a few times by other divers, it is a visitor. For more details click here.
Added 19 January
Question by Saul Goldman.: We filmed this little flat fish on a dive in Hermanus, what is it?
It is a juvenile John Dory, Zeus faber. It is not commonly seen by divers in our waters, as it prefers deeper waters. It is fairly wide-spread world-wide. For more details click here.
Added 19 January
Question by Andrew Taylor.: Is this small nudibranch the silvertip, Janolus capensis?
Yes, it is. There are two very similar "silvertip" nudibranchs, however, but they are very hard to tell apart. For more details click here.
Added 10 January
Question by Andrew Taylor.: I have been busy photographing nudibranchs recently, and have come across a few of which I am not sure of the identification. For more details click here.