Monthly Archives: March 2017

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Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Arguably among the most stunningly beautiful fish and a highly prized find by underwater photographers and divers alike, the Synchiropus splendidus (Mandarinfish) body is decorated with elaborated dots, swirls and waves of orange, bright blue, yellow and green. Widespread throughout the Phillipines and westward to Indonesia and Borneo, they’re usually found in very shallow water preferring the shelter of coral on reef crests and slopes. And we were very fortunate to have witnessed and photographed the Synchiropus splendidus spawning when diving at the south-eastern coast of Sabah.

On the fringing reef of Mabul Island, sandwiched between Borneo Divers and Seaventures Resort is Paradise, home to thriving numbers of mandarin fish. Colonies reside among the corals in just six metres, providing ultra convenient accessibility. The site is manageable even when surrounding currents are strong and can be shore dived from Mabul.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

The male mandarinfish is larger and overall more robust; he has proportionately larger caudal and dorsal fins, but the most distinctive difference is the elongated dorsal spine being almost twice the size of the female.

Around sunset, groups of three to five females congregate in particular regions of the reef; males will go to these areas and display mating behaviour by raising their elongated dorsal fin. A male may visit several different groups in one evening.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

During the mating process the female Mandarinfish gently rests on the males’ pectoral fin. Her belly is full with eggs about to be released.

In the mandarinfish world, size does matter! Females prefer to mate with the largest male as smaller males may require two or three attempts at a successful synchronised release of eggs and sperm. During the mating process the female gently rests on the males’ pectoral fin, simultaneously they rise together in the water column up to one metre above the reef. At the climax, in a split second the eggs and sperm are released and the fish disappear. The fertilised eggs are then left to the devices of the ocean currents. After 18-24 hours they hatch into one millimetre long larvae and remain planktonic for up to two weeks before settling onto the reef to begin their benthic life.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Mid spawning, the female’s underbelly is now much smaller. The eggs are released and can be seen around the tail fin.

As we fin away to end our dive we enjoy the myriad of marine life surrounding us. Among the vibrantly coloured corals illuminated by our torchlight, we spot a stumpy spined cuttlefish and a juvenile painted frogfish. The Synchiropus splendidus spawning had left us in awe. It was all over too quickly and once again we’re delighted and amazed at what this little piece of Paradise has produced for us.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Parental duties completed, fertilized eggs drift in the ocean currents.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00

Borneo Clouded Leopard

The Borneo Clouded Leopard is one of the most sought after encounters for wildlife enthusiasts visiting Sabah, Borneo. Some people travel to Sabah specifically in search of this rare and beautiful big cat. Some will stay for two weeks or more in pursuit of a sighting. The Borneo Clouded Leopard has been top of my wish-list for more than 10 years and this weekend i was “baptised” and blessed with my first encounter – and what an encounter it was !

I had taken my Mum on safari to Danum Valley for a 3D/2N adventure. Mum love’s birds so i thought a quiet and relaxed morning “birding” would be perfect. In particular we were searching for the six species of Pitta birds found in Danum Valley. After about one hour of “calling” the birds and seeing 4 of the 6 species we got the radio call from another ranger that a Borneo Clouded Leopard had been spotted at the Canopy Walkway. We ran as fast as our legs could take us, it was the fastest 500m sprint i had done in hiking boots, we then skidded down the slopes of the jungle forest to a large decayed log. Inside the log was one of the most beautiful creatures i had ever seen. At first we could only see the striking clouded pattern of fur that resembles the lowland jungle forest, then we saw his huge tail, perfectly evolved for climbing trees. After some manoeuvring, a few scratches and a number of leech removals and with quiet and precise instructions from my guide i was peering at the Leopard from one end of the rotten tree, i had a great view. After a few minutes he crawled out from the log and walked away, we followed as he disappeared into the 130 million year old dense primary rainforest.

He left behind his kill, a Lesser Mouse Dear. So the researcher and guide set up a camera trap in the hope to get an image of him when he returned. Indeed he came back about one hour later and the camera captured the most amazing set of images of the Leopard with his kill.

 

Borneo Clouded Leopard

Borneo Clouded Leopard

The Borneo Clouded Leopard is a wild cat occurring only in Borneo & Sumatra. Scientists discovered it as a new species and different from the Clouded Leopard found in other parts of Asia in 2007. They believe the Borneo population likely diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago. Its very difficult to know how many individuals still exist in the wild since they are so secretive and live in dense lowland forests. The most recent research suggests between 5,000 – 11,000 still live in the whole of Borneo. Certainly we were very fortunate to have this encounter and i’m so thankful to Azmil, my guide, to Eddy Boy Jon the researcher who provided me with his amazing picture and to Calixtus Laudi who gave me the images taken by the camera trap later that afternoon.

Borneo Clouded Leopards are rare and the only place to see them in the wild is in the jungle, your guide plays a big role in your wildlife encounters and we believe in working with some of the best guides in the field. So if you want us to arrange your jungle safari get in touch with Downbelow Adventures. 

Borneo Clouded Leopard2018-02-03T00:58:16+08:00

February 2017 Monthly Newsletter

Hi everyone! In this post, get to know more about Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures and read about our activities in the February 2017 Monthly Newsletter. We have gathered a selection of special happenings for your reading pleasure as well as to showcase the beauty of Sabah and give you an insight on us as a company. This month, the PADI Instructor Development Course for February 2017 kicks off at Dive Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre with resident Platinum Course Director Richard Swann, our local “Work For a Career” interns work hard in their tasks, Downbelow’s Cat Rescue Centre is ready for animals to move into and many more exciting news!

To download the newsletter, click here. For further info, you can contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at info@DownbelowAdventures.com.

February 2017 Monthly Newsletter

February 2017 Monthly Newsletter

February 2017 Monthly Newsletter2018-02-03T00:58:16+08:00