Green eyed dancing shrimp. Hard to photograph. Yup. It’s a fact. Everyone loves to eat shrimp and they seem to know this. So they hide all day and come out only at night and even then they hide under the coral. Their eyes reflect your flashlight. So it’s easy to find them. They are small. And so the auto focus on my camera hunts. It does not often deliver the desired results. So when it happens, that is bliss. Wow. Perfect. He stayed around for me to get his picture. There were many shrimp this night. But this was the guy who made my night and my album. Details. Everything has to come together just so. And if not, then there is a blank space waiting to be filled when I finally find the right subject.
Those guys in the last post – the ones taking their night dive specialty – one of them found this at the dive platform. I find the tiny ones. You’ve seen my pictures. No matter. The guy pointed this out with his light. I knew immediately what it was. It’s nothing to look at – a gnarly shell moving on the bottom. But large! How large? The size of my fist. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But it was large. This is nice. It’s a lot easier to see the crab. And so I got a nice shot or two.
A crab this large is not seen much on the reef during the day. And if it already has a shell, why does it carry around a second shell on its back? Meanwhile it’s my mission to photograph all the hermit crabs I come across. In order to do so you have to turn them over. That would be messing with the wildlife. Sorry kids….
This guy has been on the reef at the dive platform for a couple years now. It lives in a big tubular hole that is deep. How deep? Very. It is known to spring on its prey. Lightning fast. The blow of the claws stuns and kills its prey. And it will inflict serious harm on me. At least that is what I have been told. So I am very careful. Yup, trust me. I’m careful. Right. And please don’t laugh. I really am. So I never get close in the daytime. I’ve tried. No luck. Not too much.
He builds a cover and stays in his hole until night. I annoy him by opening the hole and rolling a piece of coral inside. He has to clean up and push it out. Then I grab a shot. The problem is that he’s a gray white crab in the same color sand. It’s darn hard to get a proper exposure. Snow pictures that should look white, they look gray. Yes, yes, compensate. I still have trouble. The night dive and strobe were much better.
The last time around, I was pushed to the side by Aseri. He was shooting video. Big camera and major bright video lights. Ah! So the crab does not know what to do in the bright lights. Like a deer in the headlights, it seems that it is blinded. And it just stays still and does not retreat. Fine. So this time around, no Aseri. He was with another diver. And I shot and shot. And then I tried to get in close. Oh! Stupid! It springs! And fast! Though I have never seen it in action, I believe the You Tubes. And then I wanted to macro the eyes and the mouth. Yes, the lion’s den and the lion’s mouth. Stupid? I made my settings. The current was pushing me around. Steadied myself. He stayed right there. I’ve got my flashlight on him. Can’t see, can’t focus. Remember? And now I move in closer and closer.
My hand is on the camera. Right hand. I’m left handed. The shutter is on the right. I’m thinking that if he strikes he’ll most likely hit the camera and not my hand. But at least it’s not my operating hand(left). Stupid stuff you think about when you are about to do something no one would recommend. Ah! But I got in close. I could have gone closer. But for now, that was pretty brave of me.
Hey! There are no whites to the eye of a shrimp. Yes, it has two claws. They bend the rules and definitions a lot. There were black spots. And if you will look those spots and the eyes swiveled with my movement. So, stupid, he was watching you. Me. Next time, if there is one, I’ll try to macro even closer. Or, not!
Not his name but its name. Get it. Why? I don’t know. I’m happy enough to know and remember the name. He’s cute. Tiny fins and he flits. I know. Birds flit. But this fishie does too. He’s skittish and does not like me approaching. He’s got good taste. Or, he tastes good? Ugh. Bad joke. Sorry. At night we found him! Asleep! We, because you never dive without a buddy and he (my buddy) found it. I have such good friends who show me things. At the same time we were in ‘deco’ mode. I was a bit worried. He was not. We survived. And my other dive buddy, Amr, may never know the truth of this night. He’s my safety conscience. Yes, indeed, it’s good to have a conscience. And on this dive we used all the air in my tank. Well, I was responsible for using it all. Not him. Yup the very last breath. 90+ minutes of dive time.
Oh! So the fishie was sleeping. Why? And out in the open? But he did not move and I was all over him with my strobe and lights and flash and all. Got a nice shot. He posed!
I found this one. I was following my dive buddy to shallower water. The long antennae are the tipoff. They reflect the flashlight. You may shoot a series and only one shot will do. Fortunately the shrimp was cooperative and I got this with the claws open.
Never put your camera away early. Another rule I follow. As we were headed home to shore, I looked in one more hole. There was a brightly colored crab. One shot only, and the exposure and focus were kind. There’s no name in the guidebook. I chased to get one more shot. The other side of the hole had two spiny urchins guarding. I could glimpse the crab, but no shot, no way. I’ve been spiked by an urchin. Once was more than enough. The crab was very shy and never put in a new appearance.
I have been told there are no sea snakes here. It makes sense. Snakes breath air. This was a spotted eel. He was going along the bottom when we found him. I was stuck. I had just caught another puffer in my left hand. I had my camera in the right. That left me with no way to adjust the camera. And I needed another hand for the flashlight. Yes I could have used help from the octopus. This is a very rare find. The kids saw one in December but we only got a small part of the body – no head shot.
Spooky. There is a type of diving, which I love. It’s night diving. Fish come out at night when they think danger is less than during the day. These fish were swarming on the bottom. They weren’t headed anywhere. They turned toward the flashlight. So I got a head on view. I can say it was spooky to see them just going nowhere. What were they doing? You never see them during the day. So where do so many fish hide? I have questions. Meanwhile it’s a strange encounter. And if you’re afraid of the dark…
David doesn’t mind if I mention his name. He got dive lessons and in three days he was open water qualified. He’s a good swimmer. And he is not one to panic underwater. My daughter was immediately protective of him because she worried that I was not quite reliable as an underwater coach. For some reason, they thought I would put him at risk for injury. I skied with them without limits; they survived. So? Ok, ok, I tend to be casual about general things and I only really sweat the details. It seems the kids know me too well.On the very first day of independent diving, I persuaded the kids to do a night dive. My daughter (no first names, please, so now it’s “J”) had done it before and didn’t care to do it. (She’s also afraid of the dark?) Somehow we were there at the dive resort right at sunset. I hadn’t intended to do a night dive. But jeezzz, we’re here… not my fault. It gets dark early here too. So she agreed and we went. Dave wanted to try; he was curious. It was chilly at dusk so the kids wanted to go early before dark until David mentioned that the big fish feed at dusk. It was plenty dark when we hit the water for what was agreed to be a 30 minute night dive.
And it was 60 minutes later when we emerged. The kids didn’t want to come up at 30 minutes! We had had a very wonderful experience. Every dive has one great moment. Ours came when J saw a hermit crab hauling its shell on a coral outcrop. We/she photographed the crab that I would never have seen except for J’s excellent vision.My memorable moment came earlier. I had briefed the kids on how to swim underwater and the safety involved in the dark. They both knew to stick close to me. It was more of an admonishment from J for me not to swim away from them. I led, they followed, and when I turned to be sure they were close behind they were there swimming arm and arm, flashlights swinging in all directions trying to avoid/scare off predators. They refused to get separated and so held one another close. Touching! My wife told me they weren’t getting along so well at Xmas. There’s nothing like a little terror to bring out true feelings.