Today was a Tsunami Day in Madang. It started out with a rather unremarkable sunrise. I staggered out to the water’s edge dragging my tripod behind me like a broken crutch and sat down to wait. This was as good as it got:
That shot was stitched together from three frames of fifteen-second exposures. The water is nicely flattened out and glassy. Too bad the sunrise itself was so flaccid. Otherwise, it might have been perfect. Story of our lives, eh?
We heard the tsunami warning on CNN. However, as usual, CNN was not aware of the existence of Papua New Guinea. Sometimes I imagine imaginary conversations in the CNN studio:
ANCHOR: What’s this blobby looking thing here on top of . . . what is that, Austria?
CAMERAMAN: Uh, no. That’s AustrALIA, not AustrIA.
ANCHOR: Yeah, yeah, but what’s the blobby thing?
ANCHOR: Let’s get rid of it.
Do you suppose that we would all disappear?
Anyway, when I got to work I had an email from Kyle Harris, our official science dude and tsunami watcher. He said that it was going to arrive at 11:25 or thereabouts. I looked at the clock and calculated just how much time I could waste writing in my journal before I needed to get into the truck and go over to Coronation Drive with my camera to see if I could get a cool shot of a giant wave curling over the top of my head. I got all excited just thinking about it.
At about 10:30 we got news that the warning had been cancelled. The tsunami was a little weak in the knees and got all tired out before it could get to us. This, of course, did not in any way affect the unrolling of a normal Tsunami Day in Madang. I heard that government offices and business were all closing. I suppose that there was a big traffic jam on Modolin Road as everybody at once decided to head for Nob Nob Mountain. I say, “I heard – I suppose” ,because I never left the office. I was still thinking about the incredible shots that I missed. Tsunami Days are getting to be like spur-of-the-moment holidays in Madang.
Hey, I’m not complaining. I’d rather see folks get a hundred days off for false alarms than see one poor schmuck get washed off the beach while pointing his camera straight up at the water. Especially if that schmuck is me!
So. How about some fish?
This is a Five-Bar Shrimpgoby, some species of Amblyeleotris, I think. My reference book is a little vague on this one:
These little guys have about 2,000 relatives that are also classed as Gobies. The family includes some of the smallest vertebrates on the planet – tiny adult fishes no bigger than the diameter of a pencil.
The one above is a Spotted Shrimpgoby (Amblyeleotris guttata). They are not called Shrimpgobies because they are small, though small they are. They are usually partnered up with a small shrimp which lives in the same hole and keeps the house tidy by pushing all of the loose gravel out. The shrimp feeds on tidbits rejected by the goby and the Goby’s poo. Yes, poo. Little goes to waste in the ocean.
Now that I think of it, I have a shot from about five years ago of a Spotted Shrimpgoby with its little buddy (Alpheus ochrostriatus):
This is a kind of Sea Squirt (Polycarpa aurata) that you’ve seen here before. When I see a nice one, I can’t pass it up. It looks like some kind of joke to me:
This character is a Pennant Bannerfish (Heniochus chrysostomus):
It’s another of those pesky critters that stay just beyond the effective range of your camera. Pfffft! Psychic fish; who needs them? This is the best shot that I’ve managed yet of one of these snooty little creeps with the redundant name. Hey, a pennant is a banner, right? Okay, but it’s like a banner.