Psychedelic Frogfish, the Holy Grail – It’s back

It’s been a very exciting week.

We have our first group of the season, a lovely bunch of guys and gals from Canada and Sweden. Having worked so hard in the off-season, tarting up the three boats, repainting them inside and out, getting everything ready in the Dive Centre, it fantastic to actually get diving again!

Now, the most famous fish from Ambon (and a contender for the most desired fish to see anywhere in the world) is the Psychedelic Frogfish. We haven’t put a photo on our website, up till now, as it hasn’t been seen for about 5 years and we don’t want pictures of anything that we haven’t personally seen. The Psychedelic Frogfish has only ever been found in Ambon and, due to its non-appearance for such a long time, we have all been afraid that it may have left for good, especially as two scientists took the only two that had been found 5 years ago.

The dive started incredibly. Fadly found a transparent larval Moray Eel. I filmed one a few years ago and I never thought I would ever see one again, as they are so rare to find. I couldn’t believe it, a once-in-a-lifetime find for a second time! And this transparent eel was perfect. Clean, large (around 30 to 40cm) and swimming around on the reef, looking for a place to hide before its transformation to a juvenile eel begun. Video will follow later, but it was trumped by what followed.This week though, on an amazing dive, Fadly, our Dive Supervisor, found one! Almost as amazing as him finding it, I also happened to be on the boat

Fadly persisted. You have to remember that perhaps I’m starting to get a little older and my eyes are possibly not be as good as they were before. So I went back over, setup my video camera and with the macro lens and I could finally see what he had found.So I has spent around 30 or 40 minutes filming the eel when suddenly Fadly starts gesturing wildly and calling me over. I’m thinking ‘Yeah, yeah, hang on, I’m filming this eel. What could be better than that?’. Anyway, I swam over, had a quick look and saw this small thing and thought it was a large Psychedelic Batwing Slug. ‘Cool’ I thought, ‘but not as cool as the eel’, so I swam away to go back to filming the eel. Fadly told me later that he almost died! He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in the Frogfish.

At this point I still was trying not to get too excited. It is such an unbelievable find, so totally unexpected and such a small specimen (it’s doesn’t yet have the red-stripped colour that all other pictures show), that I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Still, I knew it was something I hadn’t seen before. I filmed it!

Click Above to Watch Video
(Apologies if you are in Indonesia, Vimeo is blocked. You have to use a VPN to view)

Back on the boat Fadly was convinced that it was the Psychedelic Frogfish. I wasn’t sure. I needed to check the books, but didn’t have any with me. I took a photo of the clip in my housing, sent it to Barb and she nearly had a heart-attack. It was confirmed, we had found the Psychedelic Frogfish. The Holy Grail of critters. I can stop diving now (but won’t, of course). It really was a moment that I always hoped would happen, but didn’t know if it ever would.

With the eel and the frogfish, it really was the most amazing dive I’ve ever had.

So I’ve adopted Fadly…..


  1. Awesome it looks amazing so please make sure that it reproduced 10 times ready for our arrival in December 🙂

  2. You sure do have your facts wrong about the initial discovery of Psychedelica! Please refer to the original description published back in 2009: “A bizarre new species of frogfish of the genus Histiophryne (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia,”

    1. Author

      Hi Ted,

      The article you link to costs USD20 to access. Maybe you could let me know what is wrong?

      I believe the frogfish has only been filmed/photographed live in Ambon. I heard there as a specimen in a jar in Bali.

      And I apologise, as perhaps only one specimen was taken from Ambon? But the ‘fact’ remains that another one hadn’t been seen until we found this one.

      Perhaps you could let me have free access to your link, so that I can correct my blog?



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