Though monsoon means we do not dive here, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. As well as all the general maintenance, there is now also time to slowly start to catch up with my video editing.
Video editing is a fairly time consuming job. You have to review all your footage, organise it in a way that you can find what you are looking for, put it all together, add titles and music, render it (produce the finished video) and then (my biggest nightmare) upload it..
To get to the finished video you really just need time and a fast computer. To upload it you need reliable internet. The internet in Ambon isn’t too bad, especially if all you want to do is email or browsing the web. To most of you reading this, you probably have a pretty fast and reliable connection. In Ambon I have to use 3G for everything…and it’s slow and drops out all of the time. On top of this I host all my videos on a provider called Vimeo, as fantastic service and gives you a lot more control over your content than YouTube. And the Indonesian government, in their infinite wisdom, decided that Vimeo is a porn site and have blocked all access to it! So i have to deal with slow unreliable internet and I have to use a VPN to actually get anything done. This means that it takes me about 2 to 3 hours to upload a 50MB video file..
Anyway, enough moaning, it’s on to a couple of videos I made and uploaded recently.
The first video is of Mushroom Coral Pipefish, which are one of my favourite critters. As their name suggests they make their home in the polyps of Mushroom Coral. They are pretty rare and usually you find one or occasionally two in the coral.
We were therefore extremely lucky to find ten (yes 10) in one coral!! I had never seen anything like it before. Not only are they incredibly beautiful, they are also one of the most challenging critters to film and photograph. They inhabit the base of the coral, so you have to always contend with the swaying polyp tentacles which are always getting in the way of the pipefish at the bottom. And they are white. White is always so tricky to capture without over-exposing your shots and blowing out all the detail. However, as always, patience pays off, as does good buoyancy. You can see Barb taking photos and you can see how she stays off the sandy bottom. This protects the environment and has the added benefit of not kicking sand up, which will ruin your shot.
We found them on one of our new south side sites, our famous volcano site, Batu Lompa (Hard Boiled).
The second is my favourite cowrie is the wonderful Tiger Egg Cowrie. It’s taken me 4 years in Indonesian to finally find one. Another great find in Ambon.
Like all the Cowries, the amazing patterns and colours are not actually on their shells. The colours and patterns you see come from the cowrie’s mantle shirt, which is the top of the cowrie’s foot. It extends out and up to completely cover the shell. This is why it is so important not to collect these creatures, especially if you think it would look so lovely on your desk….not only should we not be taking anything from the ocean, but in this case you would be left with a white shell.
You can see the Tiger Cowrie is feeding on particles collecting on the sponge it is on. The tube-like mouth is called the proboscis and is fascinating to watch as it seems to be gulping down its meal.
They are about 1.5cm (5/8”) long and are very rare. we found them in Ambon Bay at Kampong Baru.