More Freaky Underwater Stuff

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I have a few more shots from our recent dive at Magic Passage to show to you this morning. I’m not feeling very chatty today, so you’ll be spared the usual verbal assault that comes along with the pictures. The more images that I process from the Canon G11 the more impressed I am. Now, if I can just find a student, I can get started on something that I’ve wanted to do for years – teaching underwater photography!

This is a cute litte baby Giant Clam (Tridacna maxima) only about as wide as your hand:Awwww, cootchie, cootchie, coo. If you click to enlarge, you will see its “eyes”, which are the turquoise spots around the edges. I had a hard time taking this shot, since I had to get the camera close, but every time I did, the clam would sense the shadow – they can’t really “see”, but simply sense light and dark – and withdraw into its shell.

Here is a nice shot of some Feather Stars (Comantheria briareus):These things are all over the place. There are many different colours. They have little “feet” to hold onto the rocks and they move very slowly about, looking for the best supply of food drifting past. The arms are very sticky and break off easily, so you have to be careful when moving around them not to cause them harm.

This is a beautiful Blue Encrusting Sponge (Haliclona sp):I have noticed that these are spreading like weeds in the area of Magic Passage. I don’t know what that means, but I’m a little worried about it. It is ridiculous that there are no facilities for marine research in Madang, something which I am hoping to do something about soon. More about that later – stay tuned. Anybody out there wanting to do marine research in the area should contact me.

I have a couple of new Sea Squirts for you today. This is a Sea Squirt of the Botryllus genus:The species name was not given in my resource book. It may not even have a name yet. There is so much here that is unidentified. Geeks may notice that the colony is growing on a different kind of Sea Squirt, possibly a species of Polycarpa. You can clearly see the spiracle at the upper left – it’s the big black hole.

This is a Sea Squirt of the Didemnum genus and a real beauty it is:The colour is amazing. You can also see that one Feather Star has chosen this spot to perch for a while. It is interesting that the colours are similar. I can’t imagine that this is anything less than chance, since there are absolutely no brains involved here. It’s blind luck that the hue of the Feather Star and the Sea Squirt colony end up being the same.

Finally, here is another shot of the Papuan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis) which I showed to you recently. It is a bit easier to see the fish in this shot:Most of the scorpionfish are well camouflaged. The Papuan is a master. I’m the serious photographer in our little mob of divers, but there are several who are better at spotting things. I let them swim around looking for stuff and I wait to hear someone banging on a SCUBA tank. Then I go over an shoot the critter.

It’s good to have friends.

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10 Responses to “More Freaky Underwater Stuff”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    MadDog, these images are spectacular. It’s clear that your new tool is going to be a big boost to your photography, and already is.

    Those encrusting sponges are so lovely, but like you, I’m worried about their spread, not only in your area, which I’m interested to hear about, but apparently, worldwide. They, and especially the colonial sea squirts are becoming a real plague in some areas, covering up everything. I wonder why this is? And I wonder what it is about the colonial species that gives them such an advantage in the changing sea conditions?

    Here in the SF Bay area, the colonial sea squirts are an invasive species and are a serious problem.

    It’s scary that something as poisonous as the scorpion fish is also so hard to see. Have you ever been barbed?

  2. MadDog Says:

    Yeah, man. I’m digging the G11. It amazes me that they can pack so much into something that I can carry in a little pouch on my belt. The low-light stuff is fantastic for a point-and-shoot. I’ll be putting some ISO3200 shots up in a day or two. There’s noise there, but it’s manageable. I’m blown away. I can’t wait for a party so I can do some candid shooting.

    One thing that I’ve noticed about sea squirts is that there are some kinds that really like dirty water. I live in the inner harbour and there are some kinds that we see here that we don’t see outside. However some of those are beginning to show up further out. I think that is a bad sign.

    It’s funny you should ask about the spines. Last week I was just about to put my hand down on a piece of “rock” to brace myself for a shot and it moved. It was a scorpionfish. I’ve gotten sloppy about looking CAREFULLY where I put my hands. I don’t wear gloves because I find that people with gloves do a lot more damage. If something is going to get damaged from my activities, I prefer that it is ME.

  3. Steve Goodheart Says:

    That’s interesting about the sea squirts and dirty water, because as a species, they are apparently very tolerant of polluted water, much more so than other creatures, though it would appear from what you say that even among sea squirts, there’s dirty water, and then, there’s dirty water.

    Whoa, close encounter of the spiny kind! Glad you didn’t put that hand down! Live “close to the edge,” may friend, as you like to say, but don’t let Mr. Scorpion Fish take you to the other side! 🙂

    That’s really cool about the gloves. I really admire that, and I think I’d want to do the same.


  4. MadDog Says:

    The water from the inner harbour is very polluted with sewerage from town and the “drop toilets” around the edge where the “settlers” (we don’t call them squatters) live. I’m sure that there are all kinds of organisms that live off that stuff.

    I have an incident every once in a while that reminds me that I mustn’t get sloppy. I go over the side at least a couple of times a year without my weight belt and then have to climb back out to get it.

    You should see my hands, man. Scarred to bits. I wear every scar as a medal. We’re not supposed to touch stuff, but if you are a photographer, it is unavoidable. Almost everything down there will cut you, pierce you, sting you, make you itch, or slime you. Take your pick.

  5. Steve Goodheart Says:

    “Almost everything down there will cut you, pierce you, sting you, make you itch, or slime you. Take your pick.”


    We, your fans, appreciate these sacrifices and other hardships to bring us these amazing images.

    But, seriously, be careful, dude! We love ya!

  6. MadDog Says:

    No worries, mate. I’m known in Madang as “The Old Lady” of SCUBA diving.

  7. Alber Serra Says:

    ei Jan which mode are you using to take underwater images? because the housing don’t allow to use manual mode, is not true?

  8. MadDog Says:

    This is a common misconception – that you can’t work the “wheel’ while the camera is in the housing. All other controls are easily accessible.

    If the little button on the upper left corner is not assigned to any “my settings”, then you can hold it down while using the left or right cursor buttons to “spin” the wheel one step at a time. I often operate my G series cameras UW in full manual mode by using this trick.

    Give it a try. You can test it even when the camera is not in the housing.

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  10. MadDog Says:

    Ismael, I can’t get your URL to load at all here. I use They have servers in Australia and the US. I use a Linux Pro account on the US servers. It’s fast and not too expensive. They also have excellent on line chat service in case you have problems. I’ve been very satisfied with them.