The Arc-Eye Hawkfish and a Weird Sponge

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I pushed the shutter button about a hundred times on Saturday’s dive at Magic Passage. Yesterday, I showed you some shots that took some major work to come alive. Today, it will be a mixed bag, some that came out of the camera requiring little work and some that required a gentle massage.

One thing that I like to do it to get what we call “specimen” shots. These are images that show the characteristics of the species in as much detail as possible and capture the natural colours. If you are looking a good fish reference book, you’ll see the fish exactly as it appears when it’s right in front of your eyes at, say ten metres, where I got the next two shots. I like to do specimen shots, because it tests all my skills at once. It has to show the fish clearly for identification purposes. It has to display the natural colours. Moreover, hopefully, it will be aesthetically pleasing.

Once in a great while, everything works out just right and it’s as easy as falling off a log to get a good specimen shot. This time I was very lucky and got two nice images from different angles of the same individual under the same conditions. Meet the Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus):

Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)

I am very fond of all of the Hawkfishes. We have several species here and they are all very lovely little creatures. I tend to take an anthropocentric view of the “why” of all of the wonderous beauty of nature. It’s that way because I’m here to appreciate it. It’s philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but it satisfies my pragmatic approach to deep thinking.

Here’s the second shot from the front. Isn’t it a splendid critter? If you were a Hawkfish of the opposite gender, you’d fall in love instantly:

Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)

If you haven’t had enough Hawkfishes, you can see more here, here, here, here and here.

Now we go from something strangely pretty to something pretty strange. Believe it or not, this is a metre wide sponge. That’s not huge as sponges go. Some barrel sponges are much larger. This is an overhead shot. All those holes are there so the colonial organisms that make up the sponge can feed and breathe:


Here is what it looks like from the side. This is a rather large specimen, being a little over thirty centemetres high:


I don’t do a lot of diver shots, because I’m usually so busy trying to get that perfect image of some critter that I don’t yet have in my collection. I do like this shot of Amanda and Greg finning along above the edge of the passage:

Greg and Amanda

Here’s a shot of Monty Armstrong getting ready to reboard Faded Glory  after the dive.

Monty Armstrong

I’ve lost a huge percentage of the former diver mob that used to come out on Saturday. There seems to be little interest in diving in Madang these days. I hope that’s not a trend that will continue. Otherwise, I’ll be doing a lot of solo dives on Saturdays.

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13 Responses to “The Arc-Eye Hawkfish and a Weird Sponge”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Oh, man, that Arc-Eye Hawkfish is a real beauty! And what great shots. These two images are definitely bumping some others of yours and going into rotation on my desktop wallpaper! Thanks, Jan!

    PS — I totally agree with you about “why” all this beauty is here; it’s definitely for us, if we have eyes to see. 🙂 🙂

    Of course, now you done it — got my philosophical gears a turning……Just maybe (not-so) mindless energy wanted to take a look at itself, so to speak. It took billions of years to pull it off, but the appearance of a consciousness that can appreciate nature’s beauty (and begin to grasp nature with math and science) is, to me, as wondrous as the beauty itself. And when nature looks at itself in the mirror of our minds, it’s gotta be saying, “Damn, I looking mighty fine!” And you live in a place where nature is constantly strutting it’s stuff. Arc-Eye Hawkfish! No fair! How can we not respond with joy and happiness?

  2. MadDog Says:

    Sometimes I wonder how many of my images are on how many desktops. My head gets all puffed up until I look like Humpty-Dumpty. It’s shameful.

    The more I read about the Anthropic Principle and its possible explanation of the values of the fundamental constants, the more confused I get. I tend to waffle back and forth between the Strong and the Weak variants. Is it all here simply because it couldn’t exist if there were no sentience to observe it? (Sounds like the tree falling in the forest thing.) Or, are we here to be observers of the only possible universe in which the fine-tuned fundamental constants are such that we can exist? It’s enough to make me crazier just thinking about it.

    Frankly, your discourse on the subject is much more poetic than mine. Hat’s off to you, mate.

  3. Steve Goodheart Says:

    I bet it’s a LOT of desktops! I’m a desktop wallpaper junkie, I’m afraid, and at your site, I found a treasure-trove of the good stuff! 🙂

    Yeah, that Anthropic Principle stuff makes my head ache too… a practicing Buddhist, I find the Strong variant the most compelling, and at the same time, the most weird, even eerie……to paraphrase you, if a universe bangs in a forest and no one’s there to hear/see the bang, did it BANG? The whole issue of “observership” seems to be built right into the very quantum mechanics of the universe, and maybe, like John Wheeler thinks, the Strong variant is the inevitable outcome of the nuts and bolts, so to speak. I can kind of get how observing could “create” reality by collapsing the quantum wave here and now, but Wheeler has the observing affecting (and creating) the past as well — whoa!! It goes against all our ape-man cause & effect intuitions, but I guess that doesn’t mean it ain’t so! It’s early in the morning here…I think I need a strong coffee after that!

  4. MadDog Says:

    My parents were Zen Buddhists for a while. Later it was TM. Then a few others. I picked up a rag-tag mix of ideas from all that. Frankly, that has served me well since I became a Christian as an adult. Buddhism still appeals to me as a Theory of Mind. I love discussing philosophy, but not for the reasons that appeal to philosophers. The truth is, I find it intensely humorous. There is absolutely no concept that you can toss into the conversation, mentally pulling the pin of the grenade as you hurl it, that will not provoke a negative response from someone. It’s the greatest game on the planet.

    Oddly, I’ve also been thinking recently about the problem of time which you mentioned near the end of your comment. What I wonder is if time is something that we’re stuck with somply because we’re made of matter on a macroscopic scale. One thing that I truly believe is that any true divinity must not be constrained in any way by time. I see a divinity as simultaneously and continuously exeriencing all past and future events. Therefore, I don’t have any particular problem with a variable past. It might be detectable at the scale of a few lifetimes, but otherwise, how could we know? It follows that a divinity could affect the present by tweaking the past. In fact, that gives me an idea for a good SF yarn.

  5. Steve Goodheart Says:

    My avenue into Buddhism was through Zen, via the teachings of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who I consider my “core” teacher, though I love truth wherever I find it, as my comments probably show. Kind of the opposite of you, I started with Christianity and found my way home in the dharma. The whole “God” issue and the problem of evil vis-a-viz an omniscient, omnipotent God nearly drove me crazy, but Zen showed me a way through the insanity of words and concepts to actual *being* in a way that was filled with love and compassion and wisdom. The so-called “transcedent” is in fact the very “ordinary,” and the ordinary, with awakened eyes, is truly ineffable. I don’t need to fight the theological wars any more, in myself or with others. Whatever the concept, belief, feeling, or emotion, the idea in Zen is to be present with it and just “look and see” what happens to it in the presence of mindfulness and compassion. “Simple” as that, until you try it! As for “grenades,” as you well know, that’s an advanced art-form in Zen! I don’t think one can be a true Zen Buddhist without the sense of humor and play that sees the absurdity of all notions, even Buddhist ones. “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!” “What is buddha-mind? Shit on a stick!” Life itself is one giant koan – can we stick with it until all concepts “break,” until we laugh and let go, and just *be* — not blissed out and transcendent, but fully present with great love and insight? That’s my unending koan.

    I think I basically agree with your observations about time….I think time is aspect of being incarnate, so to speak, something that we experience because of the involution of consciousness in matter. Past, present, future are constructs (and very obdurate ones, at that) which obscure the eternal now we can sometimes catch glimpses of in moments of great love, great insight, great presence. In meditation, or deep prayer, or in fully present moments where the veil of separation between us breaks down, the mind can break free, just a little, from the conditioning, and then it glimpses the deathless, the timeless. Then, you feel the Smile of God, the Beloved, the Father-Mother, and you are It, the Son, the Daughter, the dharmakaya, the Object of Great Love. And in that moment, you *know,* beyond all argument or need for empirical “proofs, the Love that loves us, and that is the kingdom of heaven, the Pure Land, nirvana.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Lots of yummy food for thought there, Steve. Too bad my workload is choking me.

    Jesus harped on the subject. Over and over – of all these things, love is the most important. That thought will bring me up short every time I’m calling my own actions to question. Am I showing love here – or something else? One thing that I’ve discovered amazes me. The more confrontational the situation (possibly excluding a gun fight, but maybe not), the better it works.

  7. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Couldn’t agree more! And happily, love is also great intelligence, so it doesn’t make us victims or unable to act with wisdom and insight — even in ways that might not always look loving. Of course, the danger is that we can rationalize anything as being “loving,” so only the deepest honesty about love and our actions can keep us from hypocrisy and self-deception. But yes, I love how you put it: Am I showing love here, or something else? What a great koan!

  8. Steve Goodheart Says:

    PS — This morning, I tried to figure out how our time zones worked out.

    According to Google, when I checked at 2:03 pm (Pacific Standard Time) this afternoon (Wed, Oct. 7) it was 7:03am Thursday, the 8th, (PGT) in Papua New Guinea. That means you are 17 hours ahead of me here in Berkeley, CA. That sound right? I’m assuming Google’s answer took into account the International Date Line and it’s bends, as well as us being on Daylight Saving’s Time…but, maybe not!

  9. MadDog Says:

    Steve, you are making my head hurt. Please stop. If I need to know what time is is somewhere else, I ask my wife. She can wrap her head around the idea of time zones and date lines and esoteric crap like that.

    No matter where in the world I am, I have only one worry about what time it is. Is it late enough in the day for me to have a beer?

  10. MadDog Says:

    The test of love is the fruit that it bears. Simplistic? Certainly. Nevertheless, over the long haul, it seems to work. Sometimes you have to wait to find out.

  11. Steve Goodheart Says:

    “No matter where in the world I am, I have only one worry about what time it is. Is it late enough in the day for me to have a beer?”

    🙂 🙂 It’s surely time…and time for me to hit the hay, amigo! Talk to you tomorrow, or is that the day after tomorrow…ugh, now *my* head is hurting! ‘Night!

  12. JACK Says:

    Love the hawkfish 🙂

  13. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Jack.