Mimic Octopus. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

My house-reef is rich

  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

At Pulau Weh, most divers come to look for the "big one", the deep ones, the current. And me, who never does anything like the others, I have a lot of fun in a few meters of water at the edge of the beach, looking for small animals.

The "house reef".

Welcome to the house-reef of the center Lumba Lumba, on Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh (Banda Aceh, Sumatra).

Among the usual small tropical underwater creatures, two new ones for me: one lacy scorpion-fish, purple rhinopias with delicate lace (more famously nicknamed Larry by local divers), and a shy little mimic octopusThis is the place where the incredible Aris, one of our Indonesian guides, found us.

Lacy scorpion-fish. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Mimic Octopus. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

A few seconds after the above picture, pffttt... The tiny octopus flattened out like a gum to run as far as possible on the sand, intimidated by our bubbles and my flash!

Mimic Octopus. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Small creatures

Below are some portraits of the more common and charming underwater creatures that inhabit the Gapang Beach house-reef.

Hippocampus. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Clown fish. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Boxfish. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Shrimp. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Black lady. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Red Lionfish. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Sand eel. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.

Stingray. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. March 2010.


  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

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  1. Very beautiful pictures, congratulations! Taken with your new toy?

    I'd never heard of this "mimic octopus", what a funny animal!

    Welcome back ... (unless you have already come back ?!)

  2. @Jean Philippe: Yes, yes, absolutely, I got my hands on the 7D with these little beasts.

    @Thib: Yes, all with my new toy. Now that it's time to leave, I'm just getting the hang of it. I'd have stayed a bit longer... But I'm flying home tomorrow.
    Apparemment, si je m’en fie à Wet&Sea, on m’aurait menti : mon “mimic octopus” n’en serait pas un…

    @Hippocampe: Merciiiiiiii !!!!

    @ Helen: Enjoy!

    @Cathy: I wish I'd had time to adjust my settings, but he was quicker...

    @Malene: I really like the "small". But Pulau Weh is actually more of a "big" destination. There are beautiful drifts, splendid drop-offs with huge gorgonians. Lots of eagle rays, blacktip sharks and a few hammerheads, and even the occasional sunfish. But it all seems to happen in the 40-45 m zone... I saw eagle rays twice, not a single shark. But then again, I tend to stay in the 30-35 meters zone.

    @ Wet & Sea I'm not very good at identification. I rely entirely on your comments. So I'm going to correct the text for Rhinopias. But then I'm disappointed: I was lied to about the "mimic octopus"? Blimey. For all our Indonesian guides, it was a "mimic"... Well, I'll have to go back to the books, then. In any case, thank you for these informative details!

  3. @ Wet & Sea # 2: One of the Indonesian guides to whom I've just explained the fake "mimic" trick certifies that it is one, of a different species... Good. We're definitely going to have to read up on this!

  4. You're definitely friends with the local box-fish! I also love the lacy scorpion fish... It's ruffling! 🙂
    I agree with you: I'm more of a house-reef snoop than a guy who goes deep into the current and waits for big stuff to come by! 😛

  5. Splendid the Rhinopias! 😮 I'm jealous, I dream of seeing one 😀
    However, it seems to me that this is a Weedy Rhinopias, and not a Merlet. Unless I'm mistaken, the Merlet is only known in the Pacific (Caledonia, GBR and Papua) and is normally black and yellow with very defined stripes. If there were any in the Indian, I think it would be the discovery of the extension of its habitat. 😕

    Same thoughts on the mimic octopus which, I believe, is not one 😳 ... the Thaumoctopus mimicus is endemic to the Region Sulawesi, Borneo, Bali, it is striped brown and beige and characteristic with uen excrescence above the eyes, similar to the "antennae" of pterois.

    But we don't really care about the exact taxonomy, it's true that the Gapang house reef looks sublime (and that the Rhinopias, Merlet or not, is magnificent)... 8)

  6. Hi Corinne!
    Great photos! What is your flash anyway? And the arm? Did I miss a post or did you not mention it??? 😕
    For the mimic... considering the photos and the chewing-gum posture (which mimics a sole), it's definitely a mimic octopus (which just means mimetic octopus), for the species, it must not be Thaumoctopus mimicus... I did a little research, maybe a "white V-octopus"... but I'm not sure it has a scientific name, it was discovered not long ago, if not Octopus sp.18 ! 😆

    Nice catfish... you know they are very poisonous adults??? LOL

    A+ ! Can't wait to see the rest!!!

  7. Ouh la la!!!With all these names to sleep....moi, I don't care if it's a mimicus,rhinopias or white V-octopus, or even a branch red-lilaybus (name of my invention 😉 ) because, they're all beautiful!!!

  8. Waooh, your lacy scorpion-fish, is too good <; we looked for it, but not found, just as the mimic octopus had gone for a walk when we were in Lembeh. Pity! we will have to go back, which is planned for the end of the year! Thank you for your beautiful photos, we completed the sorting (and identification) of our nudibranchs among the 8000 photos of our last trip. Soon an online gallery on ontheploufagain.
    It's good that some leave while others stay ... ceka makes the blogs, photos and ... dreams go round 😉
    Isa and Marco

  9. @Anne Marie: As you say !

    @ Wet & Sea According to the guy to whom I explained your arguments, our octopus mimic lives on white sand, which would explain why it doesn't have the same characteristics (brown color and stripes, in particular) as those from Bali, Sulawesi, etc. where the sand is black...

    @ Helen: Oh dear, I can't tell you how happy I was that we'd found Larry... But I barely had time to flash him and adjust my settings. The little rascal quickly went back to hiding behind the branches of a coral cluster, where I had a hell of a time getting his picture.

    @Anthony: Ah ! Je me disais bien que le spécialiste allait finir par apporter son grain de sel… Je pense que c’est un mimic aussi, même s’il ne correspond pas à l’espèce indiquée par Wet&Sea. Merci du complément d’information ! Quant aux poissons chats, j’ignorais totalement qu’ils étaient venimeux. On en apprend tous les jours…
    As for my equipment, I've talked about it a bit here, but without going into detail:
    For the time being, I've got an Ikelite DS125 flash on loan from Plongimage (they've been really nice to help me out on this one!) while I wait for the DS161 I've ordered (new flash for the 7D and other SLR-videos, which also doubles as a "headlamp-projector" for movies) to become available (not before May).
    I'm sure I'll be doing a fuller review of my impressions and use of this Ikelite kit for the Canon Eos 7D in the next few days.

    @ Helen: L’identification des espèces, c’est carrément un vrai boulot… Pour ma part, je me contente de m’émerveiller, et de reconnaître, en gros, les familles auxquelles mes petites bébêtes appartiennent. Pour le reste, je laisse la parole aux spécialistes Wet&Sea et Anthony.

    @IsaetMarco: Oh my, I can't wait to see it!!! Me too, now that I'm starting to get a better handle on my new toy, I can't wait to get back to flashing weird critters at Lembeh....

  10. Damn another octopus mimic! 😯
    I'll have to go and see it all for myself then. 😆

    (Be sure to ask about Weh's climate in August, and get the details of comfortable bungalows on a nice beach, where you can swim and snorkel...: my companions will thank you 😀 )

  11. @ Wet & Sea / Ludovic: You'll have to come and check for yourself, that's the easiest way. I haven't managed to get a clear idea of the seasons at Pulau Weh. Apparently, they're not very marked, it's diveable all year round, it's just that the wind changes direction. Around the Lumba Lumba, which I recommend and which offers large, very comfortable bungalows at €25 a night (decreasing rates after a week), there's a whole host of other accommodation, at all prices. At Gapang Beach, swimming and snorkeling are no problem. Otherwise, there's Iboih Beach, but most of the accommodation there is more "cheap", more "backpacker"...

    @Philippe: Thanks!!! But both work especially well when I don't forget to put the battery in the camera or connect the flash cord... Twice I've discovered this kind of oversight too late, once underwater with the housing!!!!

  12. How do you remember the names of all those bugs !!!! Despite the books on board, I just can't remember. Do you know them all at your fingertips?
    Beautiful photos, with beautiful poses, it makes you want to have the same toy. But really too bulky for me....
    Keep going... my recreation is to go to your site 🙂

  13. I spent the whole weekend on an island at the end of the Cotentin and I just discovered your photos, in a word, great!!!!
    I love rhynopias, I looked for some during my stay in Mauritius, but it had obviously moved!
    You're back already???? How time flies! I hope you still have plenty of photos to share with us... 😉

  14. @SunDance: Well, I don't remember all the names in detail. I only know the main families of fish, which is enough to identify the beasts you're dealing with. The toy is cumbersome, of course, but what a pleasure! I don't want to part with it anymore. And wait till you see the quality of the videos it makes...
    I'm glad my blog is your recreation. I'll be back soon post new photos and stories !!!

    @Laurence: You can't imagine how happy I was when we finally found Larry, just before he went back to hiding in his coral grove! I still have plenty of photos and videos in stock. But I'm not going to be able to post them right away, because I'll be in a place where my Internet connection is limited to a 3G key for a few days... So be patient...

  15. Thank you for sharing this photo report which is simply amazing:
    The seabed is teeming with life that is hard to imagine...!

  16. No matter the name of all these "critters" big and small, they are magnificent, and splendidly magnified by your high quality photos! Bravo, I said I didn't like this kind of photography, I'd be stupid not to change my mind, it's so beautiful! 🙂 😉 🙄

  17. @Touie: Yes, that's what fascinates me most: the incredible number of more or less bizarre creatures you can meet underwater. Nature has amazing resources. As soon as I'm back home and have a decent connection (hopefully tomorrow), I'll post some new underwater images, this time taken on the drop-offs and reefs of Pulau Weh. Please be patient...
    @Lydie: I'm glad you like these little underwater creatures too. They're beautiful, yes, and the technical challenge of underwater photography adds to the pleasure.

  18. E-NOR-ME 🙂
    I do not know which one I prefer, between the square fish, ideal for freezing, the whistling fish, or the one with a false air of Bukowski.
    Congratulations Corinne, your photos are beautiful and their colors pierce the gray sky that weighs like a lid.

  19. @Richard: Thanks for the compliments, especially if it pokes holes in the gray sky... 😉
    That's the advantage of an SLR over a compact (which always has a delay before triggering). Now you can catch the fish just as it's making landmines!

  20. Hi Corinne,
    I immerse myself with much pleasure in your blog after 2 weeks of bubbles in Mozambique. You have a big kiss from Sabrina.
    Very promising photos with your new toy! There's no denying it, it's a real plus compared to the compact!
    Again thank you for sharing so much beauty.


  21. @ Jean-Luc: Thank you Jean-Luc! My only regret is that I didn't get past the "getting the hang of it" stage... Just as I was beginning to master the beast, it was already the end of the stay. Grrr...

    Oh boy, I'm really going to have to plan a trip to Mozambique one day soon... I'm really glad you sent me the news about Sabrina. You must have had a wonderful time underwater there!

  22. Small complementary news from Sabrina & Denis:
    Not always easy in terms of day-to-day management of all the little hassles due to the lack of local facilities and all the annoyances this entails.... But it's a paradise in more ways than one, especially if you're visiting for a diving holiday, which I really recommend. Bad luck for Sabrina, who suffered an attack of malaria during my stay, but was starting to recover by the time I left. It would give her great pleasure to hear from you.
    A +

  23. Hello,

    Magnificent !
    On vacation near Malaga, and when I'm left alone (long live the kids), I love snorkeling with a mask, snorkel and fins. I'm very happy when I see a crab or some (very) small fish ...
    When I see your photos I'm speechless ... It makes me want to go diving!

    Thank you for sharing this.

  24. @Pika: In that case, you should try scuba diving for the first time, one day, to see if you like it... And if you do, why not go further and pass the levels! Underwater life never ceases to enchant and fascinate me. I'm happy to have been able to share some of my wonder with my images.