Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rhinopias- Top of the list

Rhinopias eschmeyeri and diver-Anilao, Philippines
Rhinopias eschmereyi-Ambon island, Indonesia
When it comes to Holy Grail critters the Rhinopia is defintaley at the top of the list. Many photographers and divers travel worldwide in search of these special little critters.i have been lucky enough to amass quite a cillection of Rhinopia finds and data.
My first experience with Rhinopias was like so many other's at Air Prang 2 dive site in Lembeh, they had the two in residence.
Then after discovering Anilao we began to find them here too.
The Rhinopias are part of the scorpaenidae family and carry many of the scorpionfish traits. There are three different kind, aphanes-No photo listed
eschmeyeri and frondosa. The colors range from red, yellow, white, to deep purple, lavendar and even green have been reported. The sighting are sporatic and may be linked to mating but this is pure conjecture on my part. Like other scorpion fish the eyes are on the top of the head and the facial features are compressed.

Rhinopias frondosa-Yawn baby yawn

They have adapted to their benthic lifestyle very well and walk along the bottom using the pectoral and pelvic fins.
Rhinopia eschmeyeri-walking along the bottom using its claw's

Reaching forward and dragging as depicted in the two photos. The Rhino falls onto its face while moving in a rather funny but effective manner. Funny to watch but effective in the sense of hunting. The Rhino resembles a wounded fish when it moves across the bottom. When an unsuspecting fish moves in for an opportunity kill, the table is turned and predator becomes the prey.The Rhinopia also employs a drop jaw strike for feeding, often called a gape feeder. Like other benthic fish, they depend on two primary things for survival, their appearance and their strike speed. Once their prey draws near enough the Rhino drops it jaw pulling in a large volume of water sucking in its victim with one quick movement. Often times the victim is almost the same size as the victor.

Rhinopia eschmeyeri-walking along the bottom using its claw's

Photo tips-Try to use a wider lens when hunting Rhinopias. It helps to get close and capture a greater depth of field. Wait for the behavior pics, walking, feeding and yawning. Turn down the strobe power as they tend to be a bit reflective and try to incorporate something for scale.
Good luck on your hunt!!

Rhinopias frondosa-Anilao Philippines

Rhinopias frondosa- Yawning sequence