Word and Image

Archive for January, 2016

Open Mouth – Don’t Try This At Home


Yes, I do not recommend that anyone try this. Fish need help to get rid of parasites and to clean their skin and teeth. No, there is not tooth paste with that. And there’s no soap. There is plenty of water. A fish will clean you up. It’s called a wrasse. It swims after passing fish and cleans them. The fish tolerate cleaning because it is beneficial.


Remember the movies where the lion tamer sticks his head in the lion’s mouth? Yes, here’s a brave fellow. He’s just a bite. So I guess the big guy would rather have the cleaning than eat the little fellow. I’d still say, “Don’t try this at home.” Let the professionals do their thing. Or would it be better to say, “Don’t get lost in your work.” Once again, you cannot tell from my image. But this moray was a huge one. It was as big and thick as a human waist. Very big! It’s not fish story. There were four of us who all saw it and we agree. … that’s our story and we are sticking with it.

Wiley’s Again


I said rare right? That was yesterday. It is rare to see one. It’s not my first but each time is special. Some things are just not seen often. But how would you know. So here is another. What’s remarkable is that this one is big. How big? About the width of my fist. That big? Yeah. How do you tell from an image. They are all close ups.


Well I could put something there for relative scale. But instead I’m asking you to trust in my observation. I’m not making an exaggerated fish story up. And yes I got the details too. You have plenty of time to photograph. I thought. But this big guy was moving out of sight under the coral. A big lion fish sidled up…

Wiley’s Dorid Nudibranch


This is a rare find for me. Lots of things you see commonly and never think much of it. I’ve seen this nudibranch only a few times. The image, as I have mentioned, is to get the gills and rhinopores. And they should be distinguishable. That’s the hard part. It’s not an anatomy dissection. Divers are supposed to respect the wildlife and not disturb them. Some people break the rules often. I try to be good to the reef. It’s not always easy. Anyway, I got an image – without playing with the wildlife – and it shows the horns (rhinopores) and the gills. Nice going. (Pat on the back) … and no messing with the wildlife (my kids would be so proud).

Open Mouth View

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I have seen strange things. Sometimes it challenges my skill to photograph what I have seen. The fish are schooling. The are maybe 10 to 12 inches in length. They appear in the distance. What you first notice is the sparkle of the water glittering silver as the mass swims in a large circle toward you. No time to adjust. IMG_2933You just hold up the camera and hope something is in the image you just took. It’s very weird. These fish are swimming open mouthed. The water can be seen through their gills.

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They look to be on rampage and could cause serious harm. But they seem to be merely swimming. They do not appear to be feeding nor do they appear to be fleeing a larger fish.


I’ve seen this once before and this time I was somewhat more prepared. But to adjust exposure and focus on the fly is very hard to do. You are at once fascinated by the behavior and trying to play with all the dials on the camera. Meanwhile the fish swim out of the range of your camera in murky water.

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Well, you can see the open mouths. What it all means is not for me to guess. Without their mouths open this school is just plain invisible on the reef. Open mouth and wow!

Crown of thorns, Regal angelfish


Here’s another find under the coral. The crown of thorns is largely an ugly scary looking thing. Occasionally it is a very nice subject for photography because it can be quite colorful. This one was deep in a coral crevice. And there was an angelfish lingering around it. That was the picture. This starfish eats and decimates the coral reef in some parts of the world. It’s very hard to kill. But you can kill it with cow bile. Bet you wanted to know that? And how did they discover that?

Thanksgiving Party

IMG_7443It’s a holiday party. They named it thanksgiving as a matter of thanks. Not Christmas, it would have been religious and not PC. And it was masked – Mardi Gras? Not Halloween. Actually Filipinos do celebrate Thanksgiving. It was all confusing and misleading. There was another great cultural mystery to ponder. George and I were the mainstays of the surgeons who attended last year and this. Another one or two came. The remainder of the staff is mainly Filipino and they like to party. I guess I do too. My OR nurses Jen and C2 (sorry I can’t spell her name) are pictured. The rabbit ears, hmmm, maybe a little Easter? Yes, my day job includes brain surgery…

IMG_7519A final group shot – everyone had a splendid time. Prizes and games and food and drink and dessert – and this year I kept my pants. No new year’s party was officially planned.

Greasy Grouper


Did I tell you I don’t make the names up…We were emerging from the water. The waves were to and fro. Right there up agains the rock ledge was this dark fish just sitting. It did not move away. I could not take a decent image. The waves kept pushing me away. And everyone thought I was mad or drowning with my head down right at the entrance madly kicking my fins. Fortunately my friends know I’m not demented. Strange, yes. New Year’s resolution #1 – do not eat greasy grouper.