Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I did manage to get in 4 dives this past weekend, so my goal of 200 for the year is getting closer all the time. Then I have several new Axe Murderer Tour victims lined up already this month, and one crazy victim who just keeps coming back for more. He's very much like me in many respects, can't get enough diving, and loves taking pictures down there. DJ returns next week with some new strobes for his underwater camera, so we just may have to have a little picture taking contest when he comes. I've had a lot of people talking to me about my pictures lately, some strongly encouraging me to take it to the next level and get serious about marketing them. All in good time, I feel like I'm still learning so much right now that I don't really want to push my pictures too much until I'm happier with the outcomes. I've had several people tell me that photography isn't nearly as much about the equipment as it is the person behind the lens. If you have "the eye" you will capture things that will grab people's attention and make them want to see more of your shots. I've been told I have "the eye". I don't know, but I do know I have a lot of fun looking for different picture subjects down there. I think a big part of the equation is just being in the right place at the right time and being ready to take the shot. In the shot above, when I first saw the little alligator fish laying on the bottom, I thought he had his gills flared out trying to attract a mate or something. Then I got a closer look, and discovered that he was in the process of eating a little butterfly fish, you can see the tail end of the fish sticking out of its mouth, the head of the butterfly fish is in the mouth of the other. Like I said, being in the right place at the right time.I did have a great nudibranch diving weekend! We are heading into the nudibranch mating season right now and they are all coming out to play. The last few weeks at Lau Lau you may have seen dozens and dozens of this particular nudibranch if you were swimming over the sand fingers that run down through the coral. This is a Philinopsis gardineri, they are usually a couple inches long, and when you see one, keep looking, there are usually a bunch more all within a fairly close vicinity. After mating, you will see this nudibranch start covering itself with sand until it completely buries itself. It then begins the process of weaving an egg string into a cacoon around its body, which it then shoves back up through the sand. You will see hundreds of this little cacoons floating up just above the sand. If you look very closely, you might be able to see the individual little egg sacks on the strings that are wound round and round.

I'm not really sure which this nudibranch is as there are several of them that all look very similar, and I haven't figured out what they use to tell them apart yet. So I've submitted it to http://www.nudipixel.net/, and when they put an ID with it, then I'll know what I've got. I found this guy in about 35' of water on a rock right next to the pipeline at Lau Lau. It's one of those places that you just have to look very carefully. But the nudibranch that I got the most excited about from this past weekend was this one. This is a Phyllidiopsis sphingis, and this is only the 2nd one I've ever seen. In Neville Coleman's Nudibranch Encyclopedia, he identifies it as Phyllidiidae - Sphinx Phyllidiopsis. This is a fairly rare nudibranch, and there just aren't that many known photographs of them. I've seen both of them in the same vicinity in the Grotto. When your light hits them, the blue fringe seems like it glows in the dark. The rocks I have found them on seem to have some sort of phosphorescent material on them. I'm guessing they feed on that material, which is what gives them the same quality. This one was a very exciting find for me though, as I was told when I first submitted a picture of it that most underwater photographers who have gotten a picture of them, have only seen them once. Now I believe I have their habitat identified and should be able to find them more often if I just watch those rocks very carefully.


Mike Ernest said...

That's a great shot of a fish getting munched for lunch. Right place at the right time!

Seeker said...

Great shots of a fish.