Yellow spotted burr fish are of the porcupine fish group. Got it? It’s a spiky fish to me. And yes, I played with the wildlife again. Do not mention this to my kids. Trapped against the coral this guy was easy to grab. It puffed up.
What? It’s water. There is no air. Duh! I impressed the heck out of my dive buddies. Remember the rookies I told you about? I let him go. My daughter swears there are only so many puffs a fish has and then they die. Unlikely, but then again who knows?
I have a book of fish on the reef in the Red Sea. It’s pretty thorough. So I am very surprised but happy to see that my images are not in the book. I just got lucky. I did not discover a new fish. The point about this fish is that it is plated. It is unlike the puffer that expands. The sides of this fish are bony plates. This guy was stuck in the coral. He could not quite go right or left. So I was stuck playing hide and seek. The problem was that I could never get a clear shot. I have on other occasions. But this time around I was trying for better color and lighting. I got two tries.
We saw him on the way back along the reef. For all of that I just managed a couple of shots. Well, at least there are a couple images to illustrate my point.
A week ago six went by when we were diving. Now seven, count ‘em, seven went by. They were rather majestic. Once again I was caught with the wrong camera settings. I fired off a series of images. I did not get close. The best I could do in post processing leaves much to be desired.
I’ll take this opportunity to speak about the dive. Safety is what you learn in dive school. Safety! Everyone has to come back alive. Basic! I was with two rookies. Thirty seconds later they disappeared. They were supposed to be on my tail. I do not have eyes in the back of my head and only took my eyes from them for not more than thirty. You just can’t swim away. But one guy took off his mask and then his regulator and then shot to the surface. The two then swam back to shore. Oh brother! I swam back along our path and then surfaced. They signaled their position. Happy ending. But why does this stuff happen to me? Next time down, both guys swam in front of me. We did not get far. But then again they did not get away. Yeah, I learned a lesson too.
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.
This fish is a good one to model for my new strobe. It likes to sit motionless on the coral. Of course I was trying to get in close. And anything big, blowing bubbles, and swimming toward you is pretty scary. So the fish good as it is, does not hang around long to pose. The learning curve continues.
Yes there are blue spots. Duh? This is the ray I see most often on the Red Sea reef. It hides under the coral and is not usually on the move unless provoked. It cooperatively stayed put conveniently for me to get an image. I am happy to do so. I am cautioned to stay away from the tail and I do so with enthusiasm. Touching things under the sea has not been a great experience with me. “Don’t touch nothing.” It’s the best advice I ever heeded.
Action – the human eye is evolved to detected motion and contrast. Things moving attract our attention as a potential threat to our own survival. And we look at contrast to pick out things that do not belong. Once detected the octopus has several choices. It can run. It usually tries to hide. And it can mimic its surroundings. This is done rapidly and colorfully to match itself to the surrounding coral. But once you see it the color change is pretty obvious. I do admire the camouflage. Finally there is ink which can be squirted strategically to startle the pursuer. This actually worked upon me the first time I encountered this trick. This was the first octopus of the day and I got to see color changes. No he did not surprise me. And in return I took his picture and did not eat him.
Last year I had a banner year for octopus encounters. I saw them in the open, changing camouflage, moving, and even on a night dive. So I have become blasé. We saw this guy and he was not in the open or doing any tricks. He was tiny. And then I wondered. The first time I saw a glimpse of an octopus I was so excited. Have I become so inured as to be bored with such a rare subject? Certainly I have seen many a lionfish. And even stonefish are pretty common in my files. Nope. Octopus is still big in my encounter category.
I see this rarely. It is tiny enough to overlook easily. But once you see it the animal is fascinating. It is paperthin and of no particular consequence. It’s just hanging out trying to survive like a lot of other things in the sea.
Many examples abound. This partnership is hard to document. Usually there is a single fish – here there are two fish – paired with a very shy shrimp. The fish stand guard and the shrimp digs a small burrow. It is impossible to know how large but the space can accommodate all parties. They disappear in a flash if threatened. Most times all you see is a hole and the excavated sand and debris pushed to the side. I rarely rarely see the shrimp. He is smaller than the knuckle of your little finger and must be mighty tasty.