We had a big storm on Friday night. Some of the biggest waves I’ve seen yet slamming into the sea-wall in front of the restaurant at the Lodge. The murky skies didn’t clear, however, so Saturday was washed in dull grey light. We dived the Cessna at Tab Island, and although the viz wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t crystal either, quite a lot of suspended particles in the way. All in all, a good time to practice some close-up photography and bypass some of the silt.
Anemonefish are some of the real characters of the reef. Aggressively territorial, they lurch out from among the tendrils of their symbiotic home to defend even against a whopping behemoth like me. Their darting and diving, however, make them hard quarry to catch on film, rarely in one place for more than a fraction of a second. These two little beggars were tiny- less than two centimetres apiece. I don’t know if that makes them a really small species, or juveniles. They were hanging out above one of my favourite anemone species, with the translucent arms and blue tips. Not every macro shot I took worked out, and I got a couple where the focus picked up the little flecks of suspended matter an inch or two infront of the fish, but a couple came out usable.
For those that care, sea anemones (commonly misspelt anenome) are in fact animals, not plants.
Another fascinating inhabitant of Poseidon’s realm is the nudibranch (noo-dee-brank). Literally translated as “naked gill” (for the exposed set of gills these tiny molluscs typically carry on their backs), nudibranchs are tiny sea-slugs, generally a few centimetres long, who make up for their fragile structure and small stature by displaying a rich array of irridescent colours. There are apparently several thousand known species of nudibranch (which leaves room for many more unknown), and they are notoriously difficult to spot, especially to a novice like me. But very cool when you do see them. On Saturday, Lorraine proved herself to be a nudibranch spotter par excellence, and we saw several different species. This blue one with yellow spots was the brightest, however we also found a pair with a sandy camouflage that made them all but dissapear into the seabed but an irridescent blue underside. This strange willowy white thing may or may not be a nudibranch (it has no discernable features that I can identify) but I’ll fit it in this category until I learn better. Yes, it actually propelled itself along by itself- really beautiful to watch.
I found this bright blue fish (below) lurking among coral this afternoon while snorkelling out by one of the other islands in the harbour, accompanied by Dave and John. John is a mechanic and admin in our office and lives out on the island, commuting by outboard each morning and evening. We went out for lunch and a swim, then broke down on the way back into town and spent fifteen minutes bobbing around on the harbour while John replaced the sparkplugs on the motor.
I still have a way to go in underwater photography, but there’s a certain thrill in the challenge of trying to capture these minute inhabitants of the underwater realm. I should probably brush up on my fish identification skills as well. More to come, ear and weather conditions permitting.