Photofriday – ‘In the Wild’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’In the wild’

This little boxfish above wouldn’t leave us alone.

Apart from one or two times in the pool to test out equipment all my underwater images are ‘in the wild’ so choosing an image for this weeks theme was harder than you might think – because I had too much choice! I was thinking about the interactions you could only really have in the wild, such as huge schools of fish, but I’ve posted a lot about them recently. So then I was thinking about all the wild animals that we tame by our behaviour such as the manatees in Florida springs who demand to have their tummies scratched, or the sting rays in Cayman who know there is food to be had if they hang out in the sandbar with the tourists. These interactions can be explained but what of the others, what of the interactions that occasionally happen when the critters seem as curious about us as we are about them. With no incentives, no food, no belly scratches? Is this when we are truly in the wild?

The mantas in Raja Ampat came over to me and circled while I was doing my safety stop at 5m. After all the other divers had gone, they wanted to play but sadly I too was out of time & air.

This friendly Napoleon Wrasse is probably on the hunt for food to be honest, I think the dive guides in this area used to feed them boiled eggs to watch them split out the shells, I’m not sure if its an old wives tale that one died of high cholesterol prompting the dive guides to stop or if it was new regulations brought in.

This little guy allowed me right up next to him while he was eating, he didnt run away as they usually do, he just sat there regarding me.

This terrifying looking beastie chased me across the sand, I could almost not back up fast enough. I didn’t hang around to work out what he would have done if he caught me!

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘In the wild’ here.

Thinking of buying lenses for Christmas? Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.

Top 10 underwater photos

Following on from last weeks post where I took you down memory lane with my 10 years taking underwater photos, I have come up with my favourite 10 images that I’ve taken underwater (whittled down from my fav 85 here). I don’t think they are necessarily my best but I like them the most. So with out further ado – here they are in no particular order…

Please let me know what you think in the comments below…

PhotoFriday – ‘Scenic Wonder’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Scenic Wonder’

I feel blessed each time I drop beneath the waves, it seems like there is always a scenic wonder waiting for me so picking just the one for this theme would be pretty hard, so I didnt! ;)

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

By the way, thank you for voting for me as noteworthy for photofriday: mobile phone photo. For those less familiar with the way photofriday works, each week you can vote for the previous weeks entries as noteworthy by the voting button at the top-middle of the photofriday page (I always put mine under the name scuba_suzy ;)). On the top-right of the page you can see the noteworthy results for the previous weeks voting and on the top-left you can enter your own links for this weeks photofriday theme. So go see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Scenic Wonder’ here.

PS: I’m currently still selling my 60mm/D300 underwater macro set-up. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

Misool, first stop in Raja Ampat

The area of Raja Ampat boasts the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet. Our first stop as we headed out from Sorong was to the south, the area of Misool. Here we spent several days diving the following spectacular dive sites:

Kalig Wall, Nudi Rock, Boo East, Boo Windows, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Wayil Island, Yilliet Kecil, Magic Mountain, Boo West, Baby Rock.
Here we saw many amazing critters from Skeleton Shrimp and Pygmy Sea horses, to sea snakes, to sea fans that grow bigger than a person.

This tiny pygmy squid we saw on a night dive was particularly adorable!

Each morning and evening we were treated to beautiful skies. I tried to capture them with my iPhone in panorama mode:

At the Boo Windows dive site there was a school of very friendly Batfish. I happened to have a macro lens on so I took this portrait

The camouflage of the critters is amazing sometimes, see if you can spot the pygmy seahorse in the photo below:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. There will be more to come from Raja Ampat in the following days…

World Ocean Day – Celebrate while we still can

So here’s a sobering thought – In 40 Years We Could Face An Ocean Without Fish.  Go check out that link and see if you still want to order fish for lunch today :( In fact I’ve seen this decline myself in the lessening aggregations of Snapper in the Red Sea each year.

The theme for this year’s world ocean day is Youth: the Next Wave for Change.
If we can get young people into preserving the ocean now then there might be some life left in it for their children to enjoy… otherwise there will only be the photos we can take today and the sour fishy aftertaste of extinction. Please take a moment today to check out these links and see how you can help – even if it’s only be spreading the word. World Ocean Day – “Wear Blue, Tell Two”. Hopefully this blog post will reach more than two :)

A while back I put together a list of sustainable seafood guides. They are displayed below in my sidebar but here again for convenience:

Here’s a few of my pictures to celebrate the beauty and life we still have for now:

Please keep help our oceans from turning into this:

Macro Monday – Pygmy Seahorse Safety

It’s been a while since my last Macro Monday so I thought I’d combine it with a nice large soapbox from which to make you aware of the danger that divers (and photographers especially) pose to pygmy seahorses. Pygmy seahorses don’t deal with stress very well (who does) and by not very well I mean it can be fatal to them. So when we say that bright flashlights and strobes stress them you can see how this would be a very bad thing.

Dr. Richard Smith has published a recommended code of conduct to be followed when interacting with Pygmy seahorses. Richard’s PhD thesis was all about them so his guidelines are based on hundreds of hours of observing them and also watching the interactions between seahorses and humans. The idea behind the code is that it will be something that can be: “printed, emailed and talked about as much as possible.”

So please head over to his site and download the pdf, take it with you when you dive and show your dive guides! He even has it in a few different languages. They are simply adorable little creatures and they need our protection so spread the word….

Happy Halloween – Top 5 ocean horrors!

Ok, I thought I’d ramp up the terror factor today in honour of Halloween… here are my fav top five ocean nasties (often only seen on night dives just to make them extra scary)…

Stargazer… hides buried in the sand and leaps out at prey – eek!

Bobbit worm… A giant worm with teeth – gulp!

Arrow Crab… this guy was BIG. The small ones are ok but this monster was chasing me and looks just a little too much like a giant spider with claws for my liking

Sea Spiders …

sea snakes… not afraid of snakes personally just cautious of one of the most deadly creatures in the sea

and as a bonus: Blue ring octopus (he doesn’t actually make my top five because he was actually tiny and super cute in real life – I was expecting something like the Cracken)!

for those wondering why the lack of sharks on the scary creatures list above – well I think they’ve been vilified enough so I’m giving them a break today.

PhotoFriday – ‘Gloomy’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Gloomy’

Click image to go to see alternate sizes (looks better larger).

This theme is apt today with the lovely gloomy weather we have in London this morning. I always find it funny how I hate to get wet when I’m nice & dry & warm in a city but put me out in the ocean in a nice thick wetsuit and a rainstorm is thrilling. It makes excellent patterns on the water surface as we submerge but I find that I havent got any of those to show you (I have taken some, I’ll have to dig them out & edit this post with one). Above is a picture from the Philippines taken as I got back to the boat to find myself in the middle of a downpour.

If you want to see more of my Cebu, Philippines underwater photos then check out other photos in my Cebu Underwater Gallery.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Gloomy’ here.

Red Sea 2010

Just come back from Egypt (again). Went on the Alex Mustard June 2010 Ras Mohammad Red Sea Photo workshop. I love these workshops because it always attracts such a nice crowd of people and we all learn from each other (and of course Alex). As an added dimension to this year’s trip there was another boat going out for a Martin Edge workshop and I knew a whole bunch of people from that trip and it was a nice big catch up with everyone in the airport/plane going to and from Egypt. Without further ado here is a roundup of my photos from the trip… (click the images to be taken to larger versions)

The first few days of the trip was wreck-tastic. I got a little wrecked out by wednesday and skipped the thistlegorm (gasp!) this year for a lie in ;) We had unusally calm weather here and got to see a wreck I’d not seen before though, the Chrisoula k. Its an interesting wreck and the front of it is a funny red colour looks like meat when you bring the colours back with magic filters or flash (looked a nice green underwater though):

The Carnatic was lovely (as usual) but this time I really enjoyed shooting on the Ghiannis D. I bumped into Alex inside the wreck (well actually he swam into my shot, I was timidly taking photos from the doorway because I wasnt keen to swim inside on my own and he swam into the room from another part of the ship). Long story short, he was playing with off camera strobes and we took turns modelling for each other in the strobe light. it was a nice effect. I have to get one of these units to have a futher play myself (Alex expect to be emailed soon)! I then felt bolder to go in and explore (knowing there was another diver somewhere around) and we tried agan in the engine rooms (my results were better here since I wasnt trying to use the funny 45-degree viewfinder on Alexs camera).

After that we headed over to Ras Mohammed National Park. To see the annual fish schooling behaviour. The current wasn’t really running (which for me was good and bad). Good because I hate to dive in a current but bad because the fish don’t line up nicely in photos unless the current is running. I didn’t get many of the snappers at all this year but I enjoyed testing out the magic filters on the batfish and other reef life.

snapper:

Although Alexs trips tend to be wide-angle focused, it wouldnt be a good trip for me if I couldnt get out my macro lens a few times! I loved the Cardinal fish with his eggs in his mouth at the Barge and all the other alsorted little dudes inside coral etc…

Alex T and I also managed to fit a night dive in…

We stayed on the same liveaboard as last year but this year I spent some time taking more topside photos to put my personal SoMoFoBo project into context (more in a later post). MV Whirlwind of the Tony Backhurst fleet is a very comfortable boat and the crew are lovely. It docks at the Military port so there were a few nice topside photos to take there as well at the start & end of the trip.

All in all we had a wonderful trip (we’ll gloss over the dodgy tummies that everyone had, I trust that everyone is back to normal by now?). So thanks Alex and thanks crew of Whirlwind and thanks all guests.

my full underwater gallery can be found here. And last years gallery of the same trip can be found here. Mikes above water photos can be found in his Flickr photostream from this photo fowards.