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this page:   Surprising oceanic life
marine beings, fishing, ancient canoes..


Marine beings, Nautilus - Fish - Sea stars, sea urchin, sponges - Sea snake.. distances, communication, elecric senses, light
Tahitian fishing- Reefs and stream (experieced stories).

Nautilus : there remains only two varieties of nautilus, molluscs which have as ancestors the Ammonites. The calcareous construction of the nautilus is a pure wonder and it is partly what makes it commercially so gravitational; for science, it is it still more; its mysteries start with its daily incursions into deep seas, that is to say 400 to 500 meters and more below this sea level which it gains each night. For that, it empties or fills its ballasts which are the compartments built up progressively by the animal while growing ; because the animal is only installed in the last compartment built, that it makes grow of a scratch each day, according to an exact logarithmic curve of any beauty (*) Looking into the subject reveal a correlation between the number of days and that of the scratches, then between the number of months and that of the cells; the number of scratches is about 29 to 30 between each cell and the number of the cells is 31 to the maximum. It is the number from 29 to 30 which intrigued two researchers (German and American) because this number could be that of the lunar and nonsolar cycle as it was thought.

(*) a rule posed on external surface (tangent) always formed the same angle (here 78°) with the ray passing by the point of contact of the rule.
In fact, the descent and the increase of Nautilus would be related to the tides. The two researchers then excavated fossils to discover that by going far back in time, the number of scratches per compartment fell until the limit of 9 scratches only 420 million years ago! Interpretation: the moon was very low at this time there, only 150.000 kilometers is half of the current distance and more quickly turned three times around the ground. Lancelot Herrisman, Science & Vie (digest)

The largest sea star in the world is the sunflower star, northen Atlantic (Vancouver Island); it has usually 20 to 24 flexible arms. Its diameter can reach 90 cm. (35,4 inch) Sea urchin  Sea urchins are related with starfishes (Echinodermatous) and nourish themselves especially with algae ; they can be necrophagous and shred the died preys using their five very powerful teeth. To move, they have "feet ambulacraires" which lengthen between the prickles until the contact with surface on which they are placed. Sponges : they are "animals without true bodies".., who pump water by many microscopic pores in order to nourish themselves with organic particles in suspension into water, waste being rejected by an opening, the oscule.

Obviously, they have the same characteristics than any else animals, with perhaps in addition electric functions. They gather, camouflaged themselves, measledd others, are capable of extraordinary ability you can not imagine, have unsuspected sensitivities and many other so astonishing behaviors ! (my gold fish, Jojo, who had killed all his congeneric, watched for me at the corner of the corridor and as soon as it saw me appearing, made a strong noise of slapping with its mouth and water !! (it was of course always hungry).

From the smallest which is 0,20 inches long (5 millimetres),(pandaka pygmea, Philippines, to the whale shark which can be 59 feet (18 m) and weigh more than 40 tons, the fish, for their forms and behaviour are a few surprising attitudes and exploits : 

The blue fish tuna can swim fast as 45 miles an hour (70 km hour) and the swordfish at 55 miles an hour (90 km hour). 

The manta ray which is 20 feet (6 meter) and weighs 3300 pounds (1500 kg) can jump 13 feet (4 m) above the water.

The sea unicorn throws ink in case of danger just like the squid of the octopus do.

the male sea horse has a ventral sac like the kangaroos where the eggs are incubated and the fry kept after the hatching.

The filapia abstain from eating and breeds its young in its mouth.

The fish Periophtalmus (Amazonia), get out of the water of the mangrove and climb up on the branches of a tree ; it can see everywhere because its protuberant eyes roll about in any direction being totaly independant each other !

The jumper fish uses its mouth as a sucker to climb the vertical stone wall of the cascades.

A fish walks on the bas of the water (its "fins" are like four legs !

 Flying fish; they fly above the surface of water thanks to their particular fins. Others are satisfied themselves to carry out simple jumps out of water; do they catch insects ? undoubtedly, and surely not birds in the branches, as this crocodile of seven meters do,  propelling out of water up to two meters in height by the propulsion of its tail !

The archer fish chases flying insects throwing water drops 5 feet (1,5m) away with a great accuracy and knock out the prey ; it has also the ability to foresee the fall of the prey so that no one else can eat it before him. 

The velvet fish (Polynesia) :  Does not seem have scales because its body is so smooth. Are they so tiny we can't feel them ? I don't get any further knoledge.

There are of course parasites, which benefit from the others, but there are also agreement associations, justified by an exchange of "utilities" : for example, protection on a side, cleaning of the other.

The pusser fish swallows water and trebles its volume, in the event of danger, transforming itself into a roughcast ball of spikes, impossible  to chew.

The fugu, appreciated so much by Japanese, floats the belly up to mislead the enemy. Among the most dangerous fish, the fugu occupies, if one can say, a place of choice. It is indeed mortal only in the plates of Japanese, which raffolent some.

The labre cleans fish which present themselves at its station ! gestural makes it possible to agree. It is not alone and 45 species would take part in thid job, not to only clean but also look after (parasitic removed, perhaps even cauterization). Certain species enter the mouth, hearing etc. In California, the sharks make wait in line to go and be cleaned one after the other.

The fish can be sensitive both to negligible, non measurable electrical currents, and to the terrestrial magnetic field.
Only some examples are known, of which obviously the very media shark  (see "sharks". This fact seems confirmed both by the marks left by their teeth in hulls of boats close to metal parts, and on transoceanic telephone cables ; as for the dead sperm whale found imprisoned in these cables, one can deduce from it the depth to which they go down ( at least 400 m for this whale).
Others, whose certain eels, can send very violent electric discharges (even for the man).
In deep seas, 80 % of the species manufacture light (bioluminescence), One fishe has a "lamp (*)" suspended in front of the mouth. They lights even preys with the infra-reds light so that the prey do not realize it is seen..
jellyfishes flicker and others release "clouds of light" which put in danger those which are enlightened !
Those which cannot produce this chemical gleam "raise" bioluminescent bacteria (case of the "lamp").

The sperm whale, the giant squid, but also of other fish of deep sea, detect the light at more than 1000 meters deep were it is total night reigns for the man.

The fish’s smell can be very sensitive. A shark can smell blood several hundreds yards away and the salmon is able to trace its native river thanks to its particular smell. 

The side line: Many questions rise observing the marine animals, of which this one: how can fish in bench change abruptly direction all together, in particular when they are attacked, drawing complex and moving volumes of beautiful effects, regulated like a ballet? it would be by observing the reflection of the others, in particular on this "edge line" many fish have.
This edge line would be a  multi detector ; it is also supposed that it would enable them to detect many other events (electric or electromagnetic variations, vibrations etc).

Some "flatfish" , sail needles, turbots, limandas etc rest on the bas where they nourished themselves. Their two eyes are on the top but while looking well, they are not symmetrical and even the mouth is a little distort. At the the birth, they are completely normal, with an eye on each side. Thereafter, this part of the head becomes deformed and an eye passes on other side while the mouth goes below !

More than 25 millions eggs have been found in a cod’s belly.

The fish sometimes cover thousand miles in search of food, warmer waters or just to procreate. The salmons which lives in the sea go back to their native river to lay eggs. The eels leaves their river and travel more than 3000 miles (5000 km) to the Sargasso sea where they lay eggs and die. The young eels travel in the opposite direction for one to three years.

Many other species instinctively migrate each season for reasons which are not understood yet.

(*) the gestural and sound language of all the animals, man included, is well codified for each species, the horse having been undoubtedly studied much more. Fish, birds, insects, have theirs, one of the most beautiful example being with that African bird which involves the man in the forest, leading him to the honey, hoping to have some honey remainders that it cannot go to take itself.

Personally, I collected with the caméscope the starting order of gulls, one evening during vacation in la "Grande Motte" (point Zero). The gulls fluttered in great number at the  sunset and we suddenly heard three powerful cries (recorded in the camcorder): immediately, a column was formed and a good many part of the group thus got away.

The animals imitate men. The animals imitate the sounds of their environment. There was a big surprise to hear that elephants imitated the noise of our cars or trucks which passed nearby !  Scientists and Military think the bélougas would imitate the noise of the submarines. They would have even failed to be torpedoed as such, but the behavior undoubtedly strange and the “signature” of the noise would have saved them at least. What could lead them imitatating ? are they telling they have identified the intruder, that they know that they are there, perhaps also is it an attempt to communicate and to see whether that answers? Unless it is a warning ? It does not matter, let us us alone and let us start imitating them !

>Communication of the whales, bélougas, dolphins. The communication would be possible at a very very long distance, from one end to another of an ocean perhaps, by using kinds of corridors, the layers of water of various temperatures or salinity which would channel the waves.

Sonar. They emit ultra sounds which enable them to form an image, which could be more powerful than that of the vision itself; its characteristic is to be able "to cross" the bodies so that they would see the bodies organs functioning as with a radiography. The electromagnetic waves used under water would have disturbed these animals and some, given up by the American army were handed to scientists. Radio Monte-Carlo, 28 06 05

Marine pollution. Effects of the marine pollution, studied by scientist Canadian on the whales belugas (white), show that these animals are soaked with toxins which could be well at the origin of the noted increase in cancers for these animals. On certain corpses, the rate is such as they could be classified like dangerous ! presence of toxins is noted at all animals marine, although qualified specialist  declares:"the dilution is so wide that no effects are to be feared". There is in fact an effect of accumulation which occurs with the time in these animals, which live for the majority close to the coasts, where the concentration is the strongest.

The study of toxicity is practised today on each product taken separately. These researchers explore another approach of pollution, that which comes from the whole of the chemicals, of the by-products by combination or transformation. The result is studied at the end of the chain because it is currently unimaginable to study some 80.000 chemicals, their interactions, their transformations in an alive world ! Example: the bacteria transform mercury into methyl mercury and fish concentrating this poison. In the USA, it was noted that derivatives of chlorine had an impact on the human reproduction, concerning women and men.
 Starfish devourer of corals and sugar canes..

Since 1960, a starfish which devours the corals reproduces abnormally. In Australia, enquiring comes to establish a bond between the action of fertilizers rejected into the sea, of which nitrogen, and proliferation of the acanthasters. This starfish, known as "thorny bush", observed at idle, devours the corals as a roller of washing brushes a car. It noted that they precisely proliferated in the zones or the rejections were strongest; the storms, while bringing back them to the shore, can accelerate the phenomenon. These places correspond in particular to the intensive exploitation of the sugar cane, with destruction of the "useless" vegetation which slowed down the streaming to the rivers then the sea (trees, bushes, ponds.). Perhaps one will agree a day to lose part of the cultivated surface.

The sea-snakes katuali/ colubrina and other.  Katuali are members of subfamily laticaudinae.  They are widespread in the Pacific.  (Information from a January 2004 TV film on ARTE). The photographs were taken in the Midway islands by an American team which tests antidotes, because there is none for this snake bite. Also a few details come from the https://www.zoro.co.uk site.

Sea kraits are ovoviviparous snakes (they lay eggs), are well adapted to the differences in pressure, but must go up regularly on the surface to take a breath of air in their atrophied lung, vestige of their former terrestrial life (they would originate from Australia). According t the zoro.co.uk  site, "they returned to the surface almost exactly every 15 minutes from a depth of about 35 feet".

Laticauda katuali (reframed picture from "zoro.ko.uk" site).
This half to one meter snake ringed gray-black, with a yellowish muzzle. One can see it swimming calmly on the surface of water, or installed on coral rocks or on the sand of  an islands or islet, at the edge of water.
 It is fortunately very peaceful because its venom is more poisonous than that of the royal cobra ; one says that it can bite a man only between the fingers because its mouth would be too small ; but it is false although widespread ; it is better not to believe in it because its teeth are very sharp-edged and enough long to bite an eel ; And like all snakesd, it can stretch its jaws !  the reality is this snake is very peacefull and don't attack man. Watch the childs and try not to crush a katuali walking on.

Personal experiment hibis : "I saw a tenth of them in New Caledonia, on the sand of an islet, at the edge of the water, seemingly asleep and without any reaction in my presence ; the path being narrow and the snakes without reaction at all, I was a little scared but anyway I decided to pass while posing a foot between them ; none of them move a crack, as if they did not have seen anything".


The snake passes between the legs of the diver without any problem ; no human death is ascribable toit to date.

They have specialized ventral scales for crawling on land or climbing the rocks.
social life

Although recluse, they like to gather for some unknown reasons, perhaps  to find a partner or to protect themselves.

The venon ; they can produce 10 à15 Mg of venom for a fatal amount ten times less !
The venom affect both nervous system and muscles.
  Their  forked tongue is animated with wide movements from top to bottom. The right-hand photograph shows the two superimposed extreme positions (personal work). they guided themselves more with their sense of smell than by their sight, palpating and tasting with their tongue the odorous particles, under water and out of water ; they perceive
also the light movements of water due to the  displacement of fish.
Their tail is  paddle-shaped

They thus move right on their prey, small fish or eel at the bas of a cavity.

This fish will be immobilized by rolling up, then bitten.
Ennemies ; sharks, which seem immunized against their venom, pursue them on the occasion, just as other large fish; their worst enemy would be the murene, which although not attacking them, can cut them of pieces if it feels threatened lorqu' they pass from adventure too much close to its den.
The crab striking at the speed of the flash and kills them with small fire by maintaining them between their grips

Collective fishing ; palms of coconut are assembled to constitute a kind of very long net (I do not know the Polynesian name).
A group of men draws it into not very deep water of the lagoon according to a large circle. Other groups are sometimes charged to strike water to make the fish going back.

Plungers intervene in the process. The fish taken under the leaves takes refuge towards the center where it is trapped and harpooned.


- Left hand, fishing technique with a stone. Has been a practice in with Taha'a, where she wouldhave been invented. Fish are pushed towards the nets.

- Approach of the mahi mahi(famous for being wary) ; "I sighted the following day a mahi mahi. I located it by far with his fluorescent wake blue-green. Perhaps it had seen me first and in this case I was to make so that it forgets me; it did not approach, it was also hidding itself. Then I had the certainty that it had seen me". Extract from the book "So far from the world" from Tavae, fishing Tahitien at Faa' a, Papeete, lost at sea during 118 days (started from PAPEETE on March 15, 2002, he had a broke down engine)

- The dugouts." The dugouts which we manufactured were made of boards sewn between them and caulked with coconut flock mixed with sap of bread fruit tree. They were less sturdy than the dugouts they were dug in breadfruit tree trunks, but both faster to build and lighter". Account of Tavae in its book "so far from the world".

  The reef, the stream and the passes

There are passes and passes : great passes are broad and deep : they correspond to the water run-off of a significant river; often, large boats can pass there. There is all along the reef a multitude of small passes which are only not very deep notches, where only the small boats can sometimes venture. There are often two streams opposed in a pass, without tide (which reinforces these exchanges); they are superimposed and of contrary direction ; one empties and the other fills ; the water of the lagoon is renewed thus, except in certain atolls, too closed or raised, which do not have any more any exchange, and where water is very salty and consequently without any life.

In the following case, it is about a passage above the reef itself but the difficulty to get back emphasis very well the risks incurred everywhere on the reef, passes or not. Here, the entering wave once passed, literally deposited the swimmers in a current of backward flow. Very perilous situation.

Passage of the reef, the story of Dédé :

"We were on the islet RONHUA in the great south, near the Island HUGON. Time was very very fine, with a sea absolutely plain. We were going to dive to the Great Reef between the two island of UITOE and HOLY VINCENT and we found inside the reef a pretty water hole in which we fished. The desire then takes to us to pass on the external part of the reef, to seek some lobster because the sea did not break on the reef as usual. The large reef at this place, has a hundred meters broad, is covered by one meter fifty of water. The landscape of this alive reef was a true splendour for our eyes of Zoreilles (French from France). We cross this reef with a great facility, and we emerge of only one blow on great Blue. Purple Blue, increasingly dark when one looks to the bas because the reef is nearly vertical as far as the eye can see and does not go down like a mountainside ; a kind of anguish takes with the idea that something could emerge from nothing. "In this dark bas", something, a fish, appears ; it seems a large one. Then, others smaller comes ; that comes from this gigantic coral wall which is stretched until loss of sight, that goes back there. the ground is there in our back and I notice that all of us peer frequently backward the Dark Blue to check that nothing unexpected suddenly could appears.

But it is now time to get back and we began to pass on the reef in opposite way. Waves coming from the broad sea sweep the surface of water. We move towards the boat which is a hundred meters far away. A wave of swell, which progress on the reef, takes over us and we fall down one meter towards the stones under our belly. There, a strong stream in opposite direction get us back in a few seconds at our starting point in the Great Blue. The return was not gained.

We move along the reef about fifty meters hoping to find a better passage, but this time, we await a higher wave and start again ; arrived at the end of the wave boost, we plunge under water to clutch ourselves on the coral, thinking fighting against this back flow. We thus wait at the bas of one meter of furious water, but we are missing air and we go up to take a sip of breath but consequently we set out again backwards of our starting point !! at this point, I think I must find a way to hook ourselves but nevertheless continuing to breathe"
I think of the underwater speargun, and the harpoon at the tip. This can be used as anchor. We swim off again at the attack of the reef, well carried by a high wave but this time swiming furiously to try to regain a maximum of ground.
Using the harpoon, we succeed in hooking three of us side by side. When the wave takes over us and consequently leaves us at the basin the backwards stream, we note that we are close enough near the surface to are able to breathe a bit with our tubas, and we are waiting the next wave to set out again towards our boat, five meters by five meters. We fight thus during nearly fifteen minutes. We are completely exhausted.

We did not know that according the places you are in the lagoon, the hours of tide given by the media and which relate to NOUMEA, can vary by several hours. There is a directory for the tides, giving more precise information for the year that it is always necessary to have in the boat ".

   The second story of Dédé on passes :

"That occurred to Unia in 1982. I had leaved one day to plunge at low tide with three buddies more experienced than me, outside the fringing reef in the south of Touhaourou, between Yaté and Goro. There, the reef being stuck to the beach, we had crossed it on foot to dive directly in the waves which broke at the edge of the steep marine slope. In this place the slope, it is not too much impressive, and it goes down like a hill of rocks. After our time passed all along the edge, the sea had gone up and large waves were breaking up. In water, behind the roller, one does not see at all the reef, unless from under the water. Time is now to come back and thus to await for a favorable wave ; the breaking rollers are generally coming per series of three, i.e two big and smaller. To avoid being made hurled on the obstacles by breaking roolers, it is necessary to choose the best higher wave, if possible not beachcomber and to launch out ourselves on it at the right time, with maximum height, then swimming strongly to remain above the water while looking in front of oneself. Indeed, the stream of this high wave literally spits you to at least 20 km/h at 50 cm above the reef which one cannot say that it is smooth. Fortunately the flippers are there. They make it possible to control very well our movements inside the stream: but it is necessary to remain INSIDE the stream and it is itself which avoids the obstacles. It is the same thing that in river and it is quite as impressive But there everything go well and without breakage, thanks to the equipment of diver. 

"Another time, we saw a young imprudent soldier who had gone at sea like us, but without any mask nor tuba ; he was hurled by the beachcomber on an arborescent coral heap and finished covered with bad wounds and blood ; fortunately, he could be taken soon to the hospital, that is not so easy in this country".

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