Our Favorite Critters
We are known for finding very rare critters here in Romblon. Through years of research and diving we learned about the unique marine life around our island home. We would like to share with you some of our favorite critters. There’s still much more that’s not listed here, but our top 12 critter groups will give you a good start to understand the outstanding biodiversity of Romblon Island.
As a country with great biodiversity, the islands of the Philippines are home to thousands of aquatic animals, many of which are unique to our geographic location. It is no wonder then, that some of the most beautiful marine critters are found around our home: Romblon Island. Butterfly Sea Slugs, which are all members of the sacoglossans or sap-sucking sea slugs, are rare marine critters and one of the most popular subjects of our guests and underwater macro photographers as they are rarely found in other destinations and exceptional photogenic critters. Our personal favorite is Cyerce nigra – the Tiger Butterfly Seaslug, which can also be found in our company logo. All Butterfly Sea Slugs flap their wings when moving, which has a strong resemblance to flying butterflies.
This group of nudibranchs is very popular among underwater macro photographers visiting our resort as most members have an interesting or even bizarre appearance like Melibe engeli or Melibe digitata. Most famous is Melibe colemani (Phantom Nudibranch or dubbed the Holy Grail of Nudibranchs) for the outstanding look with a net-like structure inside a completely see-through body.
Pipefish are members of the same family as the seahorses. Even though they have a differently shaped elongated body, their heads and snouts look quite similar to the ones of seahorses. These unique critters use a tiny dorsal fin to move around but they do not have the typical pectoral fin that seahorses feature. Depending on the species they may range in length from about 2 to 65 cm. Pipefish are found in tropical and subtropical regions like the waters around Romblon Island, Philippines. They usually inhabit coastal marine areas, where they can feed and hide among the sea grasses, sponges or coral reefs. The male fish carry the fertilized eggs until they hatch (same can be observed among seahorses). When diving with our experienced spotters you can see a couple of rare and unique pipefish, which are often found in shallow waters.
These crustaceans might be small, but they come in various colors and color combinations from white, rose, pink, red, purple, green to brown and beige. Some Sashimi Shrimp feature one color only or come with one color on the head (carapace) and a second color on the rest of the body (abdomen). They sometimes display a belt in an additional color and also the tail (telson) might have a striking color. They are very rare and are one of our most wanted critters, especially among underwater macro photographers. We offer special Sashimi Shrimp Dives, where you can encounter several color forms.
These remarkable sea slugs in the Aeolidioidea superfamily are only found in the Indo-Pacific region and are specialized on feeding on octocorals. Many species are very cryptic and live on or between the corals they are preying on. Most probably Phyllodesmium rudmani is not only one of the most popular Phyllodesmium species, but also the one with the most exceptional adaptation. Their cerata appear to be a perfect copy of a closed Xenia coral polyp. In Romblon you can find various Phyllodesmium nudibranchs due to the richness in soft coral and hard coral species. It’s hard to find them, if your eye is not trained, but our experienced spotters will show you the diversity of species we have here in the waters of Romblon.
Of all the Earth’s creatures, the seahorse has to be one of the most astonishing. They are mainly found in tropical and temperate saltwater throughout the world. Their sizes range from 1.5 to 35.5 cm. They are known to swim very slow and are usually found resting with their tails around a motionless object. Seahorses also have a very unique courtship ritual that lasts for several days, which divers sometimes get to witness during the breeding season. A Pygmy Seahorse is one of the best camouflaged sea animals, which makes it hard to spot them. They range in size from 1.4 – 2.7 cm with round bodies and short snouts. One of the distinctive features of a Pygmy Seahorse is the single opening at the back of its head which functions as its gills – unlike a regular seahorse which has two openings on the sides of its head. Most of the Pygmy Seahorse species identified are found in South East Asia except the recently described species Hippocampus japapigu (Japanese Pygmy Seahorse) and Hippocampus nalu (South African Pygmy Seahorse). We are happy to share our knowledge about these fascinating creatures with our guests. Our guests can see several species and color variations of rare Pygmy Seahorses on a regular base all through the year.
The life forms of the open oceans are so diverse that we can only show a glimpse here. Even after many Blackwater dives the pelagic fauna keeps on surprising us on a regular base. Please read our Blog on Blackwater Diving and have a look at our Blackwater galleries for further information.
Numerous interesting species of these small and often compact fishes can be found on dive sites around Romblon Island. The smallest vertebrate in the world is a species of a Goby known as Trimmatom nanus, which can be found in Romblon, Philippines, too. Most species in the Goby family have distinctive color patterns. One unusual trait of True Gobies is their suction cup located on their underside near their pelvic area. Their pelvic fins are united and connected by a thin membrane that enables the suction cup to vacuum, which they use to hold on firm to objects. Each species’ pelvic fins differ from one another, some are completely connected while some are partially or completely separated. These small fishes can be found mostly in saltwater, but there are also freshwater species known to science. Some Goby species even live in rivers in the mountains. Small reef-dwelling gobies are often short-lived, reproducing rapidly and allowing a quick population turnover. In Romblon you can find numerous colorful species, which are perfect subject for underwater macro photography.
These small shrimp are one of our guests and underwater photographers favorite. Most people know the Common Hairy Shrimp (Phycocaris simulans). These small crustaceans have a compact body and can be seen in several colors like red, brown, white, green, purple and yellow. Beside that there are other groups of hairy shrimp with distinct feature. There are most probably several distinct species, but more research has to be done in this field. For example the Banded Hairy Shrimp displays white stripes on the body. Inshore Hairy Shrimps (Neostylodactylus litoralis) are not close related to the other hairy shrimps, but as they are also named Hairy Shrimp we listed them together.
This class of invertebrate animals (without a backbone) includes the eight-armed octopuses, the ten-armed squid & cuttlefish and the shell chambered nautilus & paper nautilus. These creatures are remarkable in size and lifestyle with adaptations for predation, locomotion, disguise, and communication. They are the most intelligent, most mobile, and the largest of all mollusks. As masters of camouflage they are able to blend or mimic their surroundings by not just changing the color of their skin, but also its texture. They can squeeze into amazingly small places due to their entire body being composed of soft pieces except for their small parrot-like beak. The largest cephalopods are the colossal and giant squids, which can reach up to 46 and 43 feet in length (longer than a schools bus) and may weigh between 500 and 1000 pounds while the smallest ones like the Pygmy Squid and California Lilliput Octopus could sit on the tip of your finger. Cephalopods are famous for their eyes. Octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus all have differently shaped pupils. An octopus has a rectangular pupil, a cuttlefish has a w-shaped pupil and a squid’s pupil is circular and only the nautilus has a comparatively basic eye anatomy. Various species can be observed when diving with our experienced spotters here in Romblon. Some of them are active in the day and some can be seen during night dives.
These small crustaceans are all members of the Cryptochiridae family and known to live on or in hard corals. Even though they are not big in size, they display various shades of colors and patterns from spots, blotches and stripes to interesting more complex markings. The Cryptochiridae family (Coral Gall Crabs) was first described in 1875 by Paulson, but there’s still a lot left to learn about these fascinating marine critters. They’ve become a popular photo subject in recent years at our resort. Various species can be found by our experienced spotters.
This is a very interesting group of nudibranchs. Numerous species can be found in the reefs around Romblon Island. These nudibranchs show remarkable colorations and variations in body size and form.
You can find our gallery of all Romblon critters here: Overview Romblon Critters