A selection of PNG Rhinopias - of the delicate aphanes or lacy and the more robust-looking eschemeyeri or paddleflap varieties
Have we got Rhinopias for you!
PNG HAS SOME OF THE MOST unusual endemic species anywhere in the world, and that includes its marine animals.
The country is vast, and broken up into a number of separate land-masses. Im told, for instance, that New Ireland has enough dramatic dive sites to sustain a separate dive centre along every few hundred metres of its coast, but it has so few visitors that even one dive centre has a job making ends meet.
You can fly into PNG through its international airport at Port Moresby, but the town itself is somewhat lawless, with gangs of rascals and scallywags often on the rampage.
Visitors usually dont hang around, and tend to make onward connections immediately.
If their international flight gets delayed on their return, they usually head for Bootless Bay, 15 minutes drive from the airport, and the Loloata Island Resort.
Ironically, this has some of the best diving in PNG, and is famous for its numerous endemic scorpionfish or Rhinopias.
Of course you may not be lucky. Invited by the hospitable Australian owner Dik Knight in 2003, I spent a week there, and ended up writing a feature entitled The Rhinopias Is Missing!
The next time I visited, it had become a matter of honour with local dive-guide Frances and Japanese guide Yoshimi to make sure that I got plenty of examples in front of my camera. At Dinahs Delight and the End Bommie, I did.
Rhinopias are great posers. They flaunt their gaudy apparel while posing proudly atop a coral head, oblivious to cameras, flashes and almost anything else, it seems, and they clearly compete by visiting different dress shops. You rarely come across two the same.
There are two distinct varieties, the lacy and the paddleflap scorpionfish. These are not diminutive creatures revealed only by the magnification of the macro photographers camera.
Each of these pictures, taken over a few hours, was recorded with a fish-eye wide-angle lens. These strange fish can measure 20cm long or more.