Finding Nemo in Raja Ampat (West Papua)
There is no doubt that the movie Finding Nemo has increased the popularity of clownfish. Nemo and his father, Marlin, are just one species from tens clownfish/anemonefish species recognized by far. What I love about the diving in Raja Ampat (West Papua, Indonesia) was: I saw (regularly) at least four species of clownfish in (almost) every dive site I visited. I was diving in 25 different dive sites, and most of the dive sites have numerous clownfish and with a variety of their hosts, the sea anemone.
The clownfish always lives within the tentacles of a sea anemone. The sea anemone produces a toxin that protects the clownfish from their predators. A recent study in 2013 has reported that the clownfish’ wiggle dance is helping their sea anemone host to breathe and help the anemone to aerate themselves, which means the clownfish and anemone need each other to survive living in the ocean.
Personally, I enjoy watching the clownfish’ wiggle dance next to their beautiful anemone host. However, I do realize that they get uncomfortable easily by a bubble maker with huge mask swimming around their anemone. I had experience when my mask was aggressively attacked by a clownfish when diving closer to her. Since that experience, I ensure that I would not stay too long near to their anemone.
Taking their picture also has some challenges just because they are wiggling too much (when not swimming away) or hiding in between the anemone tentacles. I saw, at least, five species of anemonefish in Raja Ampat: Ocellaris Clownfish (the species of Nemo and Marlin); Percula Clownfish, Clarke’s anemonefish, Pink Skunk Clownfish, Spinecheek anemonefish.
Aside to anemonefish, I also saw lots, and lots of colorful corals and fishes that I have never seen before. We were also lucky to be able to spot their native species: Wobbegong (Carpet Shark) and the newly found species in Raja Ampat: Walking Shark! More underwater photos and stories of our diving holiday in Raja Ampat, please visit my other posts on Raja Ampat Diving.