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Ghost Pipefish at Salaya Beach Houses in Dumaguete Philippines

The only Ghost Pipefish PADI Specialty Course on the planet is at Salaya Beach Houses, Dumaguete!

New at Salaya: Learn about the amazing ghost pipefishes, in the only Ghost Pipefish Distinctive Speciality Course in the world, held in one of the most biodiverse macro-diving spots in the coral triangle, in Dauin Philippines!

Did you ever visit the Louvre in Paris or the Belvedere in Vienna? Were you enthralled by the art exhibited? We certainly think that the amazing wildlife we encounter underwater in one of the muck diving capitals of the world, Dauin, is living art! But in contrast to the art in the Louvre or the Belvedere, these living works of art do not come with signs describing what they are, and while many of the topside artworks are wall-filling paintings, the living art underwater is often tiny and exceedingly hard to find.


What are Ghost Pipefishes?

This is especially true for the ghost pipefishes, a fascinating family of animals related to the seahorses. These fishes are at the same time some of the most difficult spot, and some of the most beautiful and bizarre-looking animals in the tropical oceans. Our Course Director Marc van der Poel, together with Dr. Klaus M. Stiefel, Neurolinx Institute and Marine Science Institute at The University of the Philippines, developed the PADI Ghost Pipefish Diver Distinctive Specialty course to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about these highly unusual animals.

Masters of Camouflage

The harlequin ghost pipefish live on the coral reefs around Dauin (Salaya’s location, 20 minutes by car south of the provincial capital of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete), where they hide between feather stars, invertebrates related to sea stars. They camouflage themselves by their looks, very much akin to feather star arms, but also by their head-down, passive style of swimming, which makes them appear even more like a part of a feather star.

Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, photo credit: Marc van der Poel

The robust ghost pipefish are found in the sand between reefs in the Dauin area, where they camouflage as pieces of sea grass. They also move very much like the object they are mimicking, swaying back and forth in the surge like detached blades of sea grass. The images below show the same species, but highlight the fact that they can change color to adapt to their environment – they’re masters of camouflage!

  Robust Ghost Pipefish, photo credit: Marc van der Poel



Robust Ghost Pipefish, photo credit:Klaus Stiefel


Six Different Species of Ghost Pipefishes

A total of six different species of ghost pipefishes are known:

  1. Ornate Ghost Pipefish
  2. Robust Halimedia Ghost Pipefish
  3. Halimeda Ghost Pipefish
  4. Roughsnout Ghost Pipefish
  5. Delicate Ghost Pipefish
  6. Armored Ghost Pipefish

Besides the ornate and robust ghost pipefish, the halimeda and roughsnout are two more species which camouflage themselves by resembling plants or dead plant material. Two more species, the delicate and the armored ghost pipefish, are both very rare, and we never see them in the Dauin area.


What you get in the PADI Course

But what about the “hairy” and “velvet” ghost pipefishes, particularly prized by underwater photographers? Learn about their status in the PADI Ghost Pipefish Diver Distinctive Specialty. And this is what else the course features:

  • A classroom lesson with an informative and entertaining slide show featuring all species of ghost pipefishes, their relatives in the world of fishes, their behaviour and their reproduction. Especially the reproduction of this animals is highly developed, to a degree one would not expect for a mere fish. How does it work? You’ll find out during the  PADI Ghost Pipefish Diver Distinctive Specialty course!
  • 3 dives during which we will look for as many ghost pipefishes as possible. We will try to identify which species we encounter; we will observe their behaviour: are they hunting? What are they hunting? Do they swim about alone, or in mated male-female pairs (where the male is the smaller fish)?
  • We will observe how the ghost pipefish camouflage themselves – do the harlequin ghost pipefishe stay close to a feather star, and do the robust ghost pipefish live in seagrass meadows?
  • We will also look out for the relatives of ghost pipefishes, the seahorses and (non-ghost) pipefishes.


Bring Your Camera

If you are an underwater photographer or videographer, you are encouraged to bring your camera during the course dives! We will use the course dives to take shots and footage, and use it to analyze ghost pipefish behaviour after the dive. Underwater photography and ghost hunting go together well, make sure to bring your macro lens!

If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@salayabeachhouses or via our Facebook Page or click LIVE CHAT at the bottom of your screen to chat with our team now!

Ghost Pipefish at Salaya Beach Houses in Dumaguete Philippines

Some of the Ghost Pipefish that you can find at Salaya Beach Houses, photo credit: Jody Elliott

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