During a recent trip to Borneo, I participated in an inventory of frogs in rainforest streams. When searching for frogs along streams of Borneo, usually something really interesting shows up on the banks of the stream. This time we found something even more interesting than usual, a thing I have never seen before despite numerous visits to this area.
It was a white, quite unstructured “thing”, suspended in silk threads inside a cage like structure. None of the participants in the inventory, including several field assitants that had worked in this part of Borneo for many years had ever seen anything like this. I had no idea what it could be and posted the picture on several web sites, hoping that someone would recognise the structure.
The power of internet is amazing. In just a day several of my colleagues had solved the problem. It turns out that this is the pupa of a certain butterfly. The butterfly is very hairy as a caterpillar.
Apparently, the caterpillar use its hairs to create the cage in which the butterfly hangs suspended during its pupa stage. One can only guess why this intricate behaviour has evolved, but a fair guess is that it in some way protects the pupa from predators or parasites.
A couple of years ago I visited Bangka, a small island just outside the Lembeh strait on north Sulawesi for around a week. It was really low season at the time of my visit, and the resort had a mere four guests when I arrived. However, those guests were more or less leaving, and the owner with his family had some business to cater to outside of the island, so I ended up having my own dive resort including full staff for a number of days. After a couple of days, that became just a tiny bit to quiet for comfort, as I do not speak much Bahasa which was the going language in the resort. The great side of it was that I could by myself plan the dive spots every day without other people´s annoying wish for variation or beautiful coral sites! In other words, for several full days we could go all dirty and focus on cool macro subjects with no disturbing other goals.
One of my major wishes for this trip was to see a boxer crab. I had never seen one of those before, and really wanted to see one, and if possible get a shot of one. So, with a patience that defied belief, my poor dive guide (the patient one) and I (less patient, but I didn´t give up before he called it) ended each dive with around 20 to 30 minutes in the shallows looking for a boxer crab. And, as those of you that look for boxer crabs know, that is a lot of rocks to look under! We found loads of cool animals hiding, but to the increasing frustration of my dive guide and decreasing hope for me that we actually would find one, the days went. No boxer crab even the last day, even if we spent what I felt was hours on the last afternoon dive looking under rubble.
So, with all hopes on a boxer crab gone, we still had a night dive to do. The weather was not very good, windy and quite some surge going on, coldish even, and I almost canned the dive. But that has not happened yet in my dive career, and I quickly shaped up, turned on a stiff upper lip, got in the “a man´s got to do what a man´s got to do” mode and of we went. As the weather was pretty bad, we were dropped much to close to the coast in only around two meters of water. And, in a couple of seconds, the dive guides lamp went crazy, blinding whatever nightlife was down there. We had been dropped right on top of a black sea cucumber with a feeding boxer crab on it. I am not really sure which one of us were the most happy, but the smile on the face of my quite young dive guide when we got out of the water indicated that he was at least very relieved to be able to finally deliver.