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The mysterious and beautiful undersea world of the South Pacific

Scuba divers in Papua New Guinea see a world that few people ever would believe. It is beautiful and mysterious, and full of fascinating creatures and stunning landscapes. The colors are breath taking. Life thrives on underwater structures that were formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity. Corals and sea sponges dominate almost every surface and the animals that inhabit these reefs find food among them in ingenious ways. Just as they receive nourishment from these corals, these same creatures are also food for others in an intricate web of life that is ancient and delicate. Life here is both magical and terrifying, as almost every animal is both predator and prey, and the balance can change in an instant. Animals have adapt in bizarre and impressive ways to survive in this hostile and dangerous environment. The frog fish is a strange fish that walks and hops along the bottom in muddy environments, using its fins, as well as water propulsion for movement. The deadly venomous stone fish is a large and unsightly fish that resembles a chunk of rock or coral. Its disguise allows it to inhale unwary prey that swims close to its move. Silvertip reef sharks patrol the waters here, and when full grown, they are unthreatened by anything aside from man and other sharks. The bulky titan triggerfish has a large set of teeth and powerful jaws, making it one of the top predators. Octopus possess extreme intelligence and the ability to squeeze into impossibly small spaces. Together with their near perfect camouflage abilities, they are able to outwit most predators as they hunt in the night. The manyspotted sweetlips is a large and colorful fish that ambushes and inhales its prey. Hawksbill sea turtles are a magnificent and graceful animal, slowly cruising the reef in search of sponges and crustaceans to eat. Spiky sea cucumbers look like giant, alien slugs, slowly moving over the reef and sandy bottoms, eating algae and decaying matter. Beautiful and colorful anemone fish come in many shapes and sizes. Their mucousy coating allows them to hide among the venomous sea anemone where few fish dare to venture. Brain coral, made up of millions of tiny animals provide a beautiful structure that supports many other forms of life. The strange and beautiful cuttlefish constantly changes its colors and texture to mimic the reef around it. Unwary fish that get too close are snatched with lightning quick limbs that shoot out and pull them into the cuttlefish's mouth. Sea horses drift among the corals and vegetation, almost too tiny for scuba divers to detect. The mantis shrimp is a wonder of nature, running along the bottom in search of crustaceans or mollusks, which it can pulverize or slash with its claws. Their attack is the fastest movement in the animal kingdom and it is surprisingly powerful for such a small animal. The sea hare is a giant sea slug that can weigh as much as 7kg (15 pounds). It ejects a slightly toxic purple ink when disturbed. They move along the bottom and over coral, eating algae as they go. While scuba divers are drawn to the mystery and wonder that awaits them each time they slip beneath the waves, they are wise to remember that they are the strangest creatures in this domain. It is a world where misunderstanding or improper behaviour can have serious consequences.
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