Wildlife of the Philippines (4)

Wildlife of the Philippines (4)

Cebu : Philippines | Aug 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM PDT
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Skooter reporting 08/31/12

A continuation to jumping spiders -

Here's one snapshot that's caught a young true bug. That’s true, jumping spiders are very good at leaping, albeit they don't have muscular legs. This was what Mr. Seaman revealed to me. They do it in a clever way, said Mr. Seaman. How then? I asked. They jump up to 80 times their own body length by quickly pumping fluid into their legs, usually after attaching a silk line as a backup in case they miss their target and fall. Smart guy, huh. Does spider man have this ability too?

On the next page we have another species and like jumping spiders, lynx spiders don't use a web to trap their prey, instead swooping on their prey and quickly paralyzing it with venom. However lynx spiders don't have such 20/20 vision, I mean good eyesight and they rely on ambush skills, instead of actively shadowing down their next meal.

On next page, is this argiope spider belongs to a family with members around the world, lots of which build webs with the type of white "stabilimentum" which you see here, some sort of danger sign whose intention might be to help birds and other animals to see the web, and so avoid crashing or damaging it.

I don't know what this oddly shaped spider is called, or even what family it belongs to, but there were surely plenty of them around. My friend here saw those strange looking crawlers for the first time, so he too didn’t know.

We came across a colorful orchard spider hanging in its web in the grasses. Orchard spiders have a characteristically shaped abdomen, and have quite gorgeous markings.

We believe we have all seen the odd looking spiders in the island of Bohol and what we have seen here could also be true in other parts of the country. As we continued our exploration, we came face to face to a somewhat less attractive critter as far as most people are concerned.

The bright orange legs on this very cute millipede clearly show the feature which set apart millipedes from centipedes; it's not the number of legs the animal has, but to a certain extent that millipedes have two pairs of legs for each body section, and centipedes have only one pair.

Gosh! Another millipede, the largest we’ve seen anywhere, measuring about 20 centimeters from head to tail.

Turn to next page please. I know you’ll be amazed with this one. Well, here's a rather colorful slug. If you find something gone wrong about this photo, that's because it was taken underwater. You see, this is a sea slug called Chromodoris magnifica photographed while Mr. Seaman was diving off the island of Bohol. Seaman explained to me that sea slugs are a favorite model for underwater photographers that was why Seaman put together an entire page of nudibranchs of the Philippines.

What’s nudibranchs by the way? Mr. Seaman said sea slugs are also called nudibranchs because of the "naked gills" which you can see on the backs of these individuals. Look, I said. They’re holding hands. This pair isn't holding hands, Seaman said. They're mating. Like terrestrial slugs, nudibranchs are real hermaphrodites, and when they mate each animal is conveying sperm to the other. When they're finished, each will go and lay eggs, but it isn't clear which one has to pay for dinner. You volunteer?

You know, there are lots of lovely critters underwater, and a few scary ones too. What you see here, is a titan triggerfish, something of an archenemy for divers because of their habit of sinking those large teeth right through a wetsuit while protecting their nest. Any unfortunate person who comes within 50 feet of the nest had better watch their behind! The only way you see them relaxed is when they're being worked on by some cleaner wrasses. Wrasse by the way is a tropical fish having a thick and fleshy lips and powerful teeth.

Now, if you want to see more sharp teeth, go to next page. This time belonging to a fimbriated moray eel. Seaman defined to me the word "fimbriated." He said it is a ridiculously fancy word for "fringed", perhaps referring to the full-length dorsal fin you see here.

You wonder how we took this photo and where; this was taken at night off the shore of the town of Anilao, south-east of Manila. The dive site is called "basura", which is in Spanish for "trash dump" or “garbage” and fittingly describes the scene, with little or no coral, just a rocky or dirt bottom with useless metal drums and tires.

This type of diving is called "muck diving" and though it sounds very unlikable, it's really a brilliant way of seeing weird and amazing animals which you wouldn't typically encounter in a more conventional dive location.

The reason Mr. Richard Seaman came to the Philippines rather than go to some other tropical locale was the opportunity to free-dive with whale sharks. A few years ago it was found out that a population of whale sharks inhabit permanently off the coast of Luzon, about a kilometer from the town of Donsol. The mentioned town is isolated, despite of its location, Donsol is now a mecca for tourists, who go out on the typical Filipino boats called bangka with outriggers for a couple of hours, with the near belief of finding and viewing these massive but harmless creatures, the largest of all fish, and one of the underwater highlights of the Philippines.


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Philippine jumping spider
skooter is based in Cebu, Central Visayas, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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