Cook Island Critters

We were very keen to get out to Cook Island this month. I’ve been browsing my dive photo library and discovered that November is the month that we usually spot Mantis Shrimps.  I just love these critters and they are extremely photogenic.  Alas, there were no Mantis Shrimps to be seen, but here is a photo from a previous year.

Mantas prawn, Cook Island.  This fellow was out and about, usually they scurry away very quickly

We still had a great dive.  We were under water for over an hour and saw critters we haven’t seen before, or have rarely seen, at Cook Island.  We think it was because of the conditions.  Visibility was limited to 5 meters, the top 5 metres were very murky, but  clearer at the bottom (10 meters).  Consequently it was more like a night dive.

Our best find was a Smooth Box Crab, a critter we have never seen before.  We spent a lot of time watching this critter.  Note, it only has one eye.

Smooth Box Crab;

Smooth Box Crab;  This crab would normally be buried with only the eyes protruding.  It was about 15cm wide.

box-crab-and-shell

Smooth Box Crab; note the discarded carapace in the background.

There were lots of other crabs and shrimps about as well….

Banded Boxer Shrimp;

Banded Boxer Shrimp; common at Cook Island, normally seen in pairs.

green-eyes

Unknown crab; These guys are usually well hidden under the rocks, but they weren’t so shy today.

flat-crab

Unknown crab; another shy crab that is hard to photograph during the day.

At first glance, this sea cucumber appeared to be covered in some sort of growth, however on close inspection we discovered it was infested with tiny shrimp like creatures.

infested-cucumber

Infested sea cucumber

Infested sea cucumber; up close.

Infested sea cucumber; up close.  I think it’s a bit creepy, maybe it was dead.

Now for the beautiful critters.

Ceratosoma Magnificum; This beautiful nudibranch is rarely seen at Cook Island, I guess we've seen it about 6 times, at Cook Is., over the past 10 years.

Ceratosoma Magnificum; This beautiful nudibranch is rarely seen at Cook Island, I guess we’ve seen it about 6 times at Cook Is. over the past 10 years.

Ceratosoma Magnificum.

Ceratosoma Magnificum.

Mora Eel

Moray Eel;  I think this is a Green Moray, however it doesn’t have the usual wrinkly skin.

Banded shrimp goby

Banded shrimp goby; these guys are quick, quite often I end up with and empty photo.

Goby (unknown)

Goby or Bienne; I spent a lot of time trying to identify it, but no luck.  I love the markings.

Small fry.  There were two lion fish hanging around this spot.  I image they we feeding on these little guys.

Small fry. There were two lion fish hanging around this spot. I imagine they we feeding on these little guys.

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