Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Search Challenge (August 20, 2011): Identifying from real life

I think I've already mentioned that I'm an avid scuba diver and have been known to travel long distances to go diving in an especially beautiful place.  I grew up diving in Southern California waters, so I'm entranced by the spectacular beauty of the tropics--corals and small, colorful fish just completely make my day.  

One of the challenges of diving in remote locations is that you'll often come across animals you can't identify.  

Here's one such problem that came to me recently (I've modified it a bit from the original in hopes of making it somewhat simpler.)  

A dive buddy sends me an email with the following attached images asking, "What is this animal?  I saw it while diving in southern Indonesia.  It's a little longer than 1 foot in length, and has a pointy fish-shaped head (look at the second photo, the head is on the lower left). It's really flat and moves through the water like an eel.  But it's mostly transparent!  What IS this beast?" 

Or, more to my tastes--what is it?  Where does it live?  What does it eat?  (etc.... basically, I want to know the natural history of this wonderful creature.)  

This, plus these images, are everything I know... 

Search on! 


  1. Moray Eel Pelagic Larva

    Put the 3rd photo into image search.

    Results best guess was Larval Eel and in the results was this

    Link from there to

    Search for [leptocephalus]


  3. Leptocephali larvae

    searched for: "transparent eel of Indonesia"

    The 6th result was:

    Then to wikipedia:

    "It was recently found though, that they appear to feed on tiny particles floating free in the ocean, which are often referred to as marine snow. Leptocephalus larvae live primarily in the upper 100 meters of the ocean at night, and often a little deeper during the day. Leptocephali are present worldwide in the ocean from southern temperate to tropical latitudes, where adult eels and their close relatives live."

  4. you mean, one of these?

  5. Image search made this a bit too easy, as you had taken an image off the web that Google had already indexed.

    Try the same challenge with an image from your own camera that hasn't been indexed. It gets a lot harder.

  6. Ken -- Why, yes! That's a great video.

    Gasstationwithoutpumps -- Yeah, I know that using existing images made it fairly simple. When I write these challenges, it's always a toss-up about whether I should make it REALLY challenging vs. solvable in a decent amount of time. I chose the latter in this case.

    Nice job everyone!