Schooling Rhinopias

Text & photos by Dorothy Lee

Rhinopias are just one of these incredibly ornate looking creatures that, I believe, are rather rare to come by, and I can remember only ever encountering one rhinopia at any one time, on any one dive.

There was a faint elevation of my heart rate when I heard Karl’s dive briefing, that rhinopias had been seen here in the past. Dropping onto a black sandy slope littered with the usual myriad of trash, I was quietly enthusiastic that eagle-eyed Irwan and Jeffrey would spot this rarity for us.

After what seemed like 20-minutes of photographing giant octopuses and moray eels, I swum towards a bunched-up group of divers hovering over what I could only assume to be the rhinopia. A beautiful lavender-pink weedy indeed. The crowd had dispersed and I thought would spend some quality time with the beauty; however, after a few shots, Jeffrey signals me…there is something else…so with a slight reluctance, off I follow him, and lo and behold, we get to a lovely pale cream weedy. This is amazing. Then I sense that Jeffrey is hurrying me along again. Why? Off I go with him and, my goodness…a third – a wonderful yellow weedy in the shallows of about 6m. The hour-dive is almost up, and once again, Jeffrey signals for me to move on…what now? This is just unbelievable…yet another weedy rhinopia! What an incredible dive that was!

We were fortunate to have been able to return to the site the following day, and not only did we come across three of the same weedy rhinopias, but also an incredible red paddle-flap. How cool is that!? Five different ones in one site!

We never got round to finding out what rhinopias get up to at night – the night dive had to be abandoned as the locals had just cast their fishing nets. So another time, perhaps.

Dorothy Lee
August 2017

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