Rich Pagen is a biologist who has worked on surveys for nearly everything; from mammalian carnivores in the mountains of California, to bird migration monitoring in Canada, and even a study of army-ant-following birds in the Peruvian Amazon. Rich loves the sea, and has also conducted shipboard surveys for marine mammals and seabirds, as well as tagging studies of sea turtles and pelagic sharks.
Strung like pearls on a necklace, countless tiny islands stretch like stepping stones from the Philippines north to Taiwan, and north again from Taiwan to Japan. In March 2017, Zegrahm Expeditions will embark on an unprecedented journey through this off-the-beaten-track part of the Pacific, exploring the spectacular underwater offerings as we go, on Asia’s Subtropical Isles: Philippines, Taiwan & Japan. From a snorkeling and diving perspective, this expedition will offer the rare opportunity to observe the changes in the fish and marine invertebrate community as we do a transect, from south to north, from tropical to subtropical.
At the core of the Coral Triangle, most of the islands of the Philippines are fringed by reefs exhibiting some of the highest coral and fish diversity anywhere on the planet. There, in the crystal-clear water, we hope to see such sights as parrotfish attending cleaning stations, where blue-streaked cleaner wrasses pick off parasites and bits of skin from their much larger cousins. Staghorn damsels and scissor-tailed damsels can be seen hovering above the reef itself, plucking up plankton as it drifts past the reef.
As we explore further north, we expect to come across a few specialties of these somewhat cooler waters, including some species found nowhere else on earth! Japanese angelfish, in their stunning blue and orange, will flit curiously around the reef. We also hope to see the appropriately named wrought-iron butterflyfish, whose steel-gray color is accented by the most beautiful fringe of yellow on the trailing edge of some of its fins.
Watching life unfold on a coral or rocky reef, whether while snorkeling or scuba diving, is one of life’s great natural history experiences. On our upcoming Philippines, Taiwan, & Japan expedition, we will have ample opportunity to do just that.
For more information on our upcoming expedition, visit Asia’s Subtropical Isles: Philippines, Taiwan & Japan.