There are no tooth brushes. So nature provided wrasse for the duty. They dart among passing fish. There are even so cleaning stations. Fish come for cleaning like a car wash. Ha! But from time to time you do need to clean your teeth and if you don’t have a brush, a toothpick, or a tongue, it’s gotta be hard to do yourself. Open wide. I got this shot before. Not quite so wide. I could pretty much see the tonsils. Moays have tonsils? And then in darted the wrasse. One gulp and he’s a tasty snack. And he did it more than once. For his part I could not see what the wrasse found so appetizing. Imagine eating the food between someone else’s teeth. Brave fellow. I’m pretty fortunate to have been there to watch. See? The little one is sitting inside looking out at me. Daring me to come in. It’s not so benign. I’ve seen video of a moray tearing the tentacle off an octopus. Maybe the wrasse was the bait and I was dinner?
I never know the ass from my elbow – ok – I mixed metaphors. But the front end from the ass can be a challenge. And this nudibranch has a front end.
See the rhinopores? With macro – it’s easy! Was that all? Gee, it’s like I just got a brand new pair of reading glasses. By the way I do need glasses. But my vision is good enough without them. So I am only half blind underwater. This should be a great comfort to the patients I operate upon….
Here are some details of what I can do with macro underwater photography. Don’t sigh and don’t laugh. And yes, Carol, I’ll finish with fish someday. Meanwhile just smile and look at what I can do. Neat!
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.
Everyone thinks moray eels are dangerous. The teeth are not as large as shark teeth. The fish is always in under a coral opening. It does not charge around. You really don’t see it in open water swimming. It shrinks back when confronted. I don’t need to touch a hot stove to know it’s bad for you. But I do take liberties. I get in close now with my camera. So far so good.
Doesn’t he look fierce? The object is to get a head on mouth open shot. Both eyes and teeth are preferable for me. Mouth open is second on my wish list. These guys are shy. I have heard their bite is terrible. I have not been in danger. But then again I’m not sure I would know. I got in close popped the flash and got the image.
Easy as it may seem, there is a lag from when you depress the shutter and when the camera fires. I was timing my images to shoot when it’s mouth was closed. Thank goodness digital allowed me so many tries.
Moray eels do not see well. How do they know this stuff? My dive buddy was new. He was worried how close I got with my camera. He told me after the dive. The moray are pretty tolerant as long as you do not move fast. So far! I have not been bitten. The open mouth shot lends some danger to the image. The blue wrasse hanging about is doing cleaning service. Morays can be quite large. But usually you don’t get to see them because they are mostly hidden in the coral.
In the Red Sea there is free cleaning service too. These fish are brave or the bigger fish tolerate them as a necessary service. After all how do you scratch your nose? Don’t be wise and say fish don’t have noses. I knew that. But if you want your windows cleaned or your skin scratched it doesn’t help to eat the help does it? Carry on… And after all the recent land pics, did you think I was done with the Red Sea?
I’ve been down about 150 times now since starting a database and keeping track. I have seen what there is except that always there is a twist or variation. The photo expert I dove with told me he doesn’t like eels. Well I do like them enough to take advantage of an opportunity. I was over the reef and in a crevice there was a moray stretched out. What was unusual was that he was not inside a hole in the coral but fully exposed. He was quite large. I got my shots and even had a chance to get a nice movie. Every time down you see a variation on what you might have seen before and each time it’s a chance to do it different. So I try.
Moray eels usually stay within the coral just showing their head. But on night dives they come out and sometimes swim in the open ocean. Since you are watching for movement they are easy enough to spot. But then the trick is to catch up and get a shot. This guy was slithering along the bottom and wished we were not spotlighting him. He was soon gone. I’d have liked a better image. Someday I’ll get one.
Moray eels stay in a coral crevice and only poke their heads up. They can be quite large, or rather long. The head has a different color. It took me a while to understand the anatomy. Needless to say you don’t see many morays swimming out in open water. Every dive has its aha moment. Sometimes it’s a stonefish or rarely a squid or even a turtle. So far on this particular dive there hadn’t been much excitement. Oh well… We were done and at the decompression stop. I was floating and waiting for the time to pass. Per usual routine I don’t turn off my camera until I’m out of the water. And today! Yeah, I got this moray. He popped out of the coral and took off. My dive buddy and I were both very surprised. I happened to have the camera at the ready. Great luck!
The wrasse is a small fish that thrives on cleaning other fish. It is a beneficial service so the wrasse doesn’t seem become a meal for other fish. I have seen them work on many different fish. It’s just hard to capture an image. They are so small. But I have seen it done, so I wait for an opportunity. I got a bunch of shots of this cleaning session. And I got the moray with it’s teeth out. Yes, this was a shot worth imagining. I’m glad to have caught it.
One thing that’s hard to anticipate during a night dive is when and where you will have a fish encounter. The light you bring is your main source of vision. Fortunately my beam is very strong and penetrating. It’s so strong that I have to point it away from my main subject in order not to overexpose the main subject. Once you have at least one image then you start to experiment. My goal was to get the eel with its mouth open and showing teeth. I just missed seeing his tonsils. And keep in mind, I have a camera in one hand, light in the other, which leave me with needing one more hand ….
I was just about to get separated from my dive buddies. They were up ahead and leaving me behind. You can’t really ‘call’ to slow down. In the open swimming along the sand were a moray eel … and a puffer. I have not seen a moray in the open. And I have not seen one with blue striations. It’s possible that this is not a moray. Whatever, it was not happy to be in the glare of my dive light. But I had the ability to shoot some images. I just couldn’t get low enough for a sea bed shot.
‘Never leave you wingman,’ Tom Cruise, Top Gun… yes, I did get separated. At night this could be an issue! Visibility is poor in the pitch black. So I turned off my own light and watched for the glow of the other divers. It worked and I caught up to everybody. Worst case scenario, I surface on my own, but I wanted to continue the dive. I was happy to be reunited.