A Once In a Lifetime Shot

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The weekend got off to a perfect start this morning when I crossed the terminal wires on my boat battery and blew the voltage regulator on my engine. I had to cancel the day for five divers standing on the dock waiting for me. I hope the remainder of their weekend went better than mine. Fortunately, Richard Jones is in town, so I went out on his boat, Sanguma  along with Jenn, Jo and Ush.

I have lots of other news about the weekend, some good, some not so. I’m sitting at the office on Sunday afternoon writing this because the power to the security camera pole where my wireless connection makes its hop to my house has been out all weekend and, of course, my wonderful TELIKOM phone lines won’t carry data today because there were a few drops of rain last night.

I could keep on complaining for hours, but I don’t have the time. Too bad. It’s my favourite hobby.

One of the bright spots of the weekend is in this image:If you’re not a diver, you might not think that it’s such a big deal. Believe me, it is.  The shot above was taken by available light at about eighteen metres at The Eel Garden  at Pig Island.

What you’re looking at is two giant Notodoris minor  nudibranchs engaged in a super slow motion mating act. (UPDATE: Frank Peeters points out that this is actually one N. Minor.  His explanation is perfect; I can’t argue with it. See our comments below. I’m only slightly deflated.) The reason I’m showing you three nearly identical images of the same scene are partly technical and partly because I’m so dumbfounded by my luck that I can’t stop inserting the images in this post. It’s one thing to see a Notodoris minor.  I’ve found a spot at The Eel Garden  where I can usually find one if I take the time to look. It’s another thing to find two of them together. However, I have never before, and very likely never will again catch two of them in the act of laying and fertilising eggs. The shot above was lit by the flash on my camera.

Needless to say, I grabbed many, many exposures of the pair. I did not want to risk something going wrong. I tried several different camera settings. I made up this image in Photoshop which, though it seems faded compared to the others, shows the fine structures in high detail and really gives a more accurate idea of the shape of the things:The image above is over twice the pixel dimensions that I usually put in the journal. I normally limit resolution to 1600 pixels. This makes them load faster if you want to click to enlarge. It also protects me a little from those who steal images from the web and foist them off as their own. Yes, it has happened to me. My copyright (see the bottom of the page) allows free non-commercial use of any of my images without seeking permission as long as you simply attach my name to the image or (preferably) include a link to Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  That’s fairly small payment for the work that I put into presenting my best work on this site. I’ve found plenty of my images on other web sites with no attribution. I’m not sure why someone would do that, but it doesn’t make me particularly happy. Anyway, if you want to see some amazing details of the egg-laying nudis, click on the image above and be ready to download about a half of a megabyte.

I also thought that you might be interested to see the old wrecked catamaran river barge which is right beside the place where I find the Notodoris minor:That image is a stitch-up of seven separate frames. It covers about 160°.

Since we’re doing a lot of yellow today, I’ll throw in this snap-shot of a Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi):I’d rather that the other one had gotten out of the way a little sooner. This image was the result of a ten minute chase. Butterflyfish are very frustrating.

I’ll have more weekend adventures later. They include a very nice party, a car theft by a drunk, a house invasion and possible rape (we don’t know yet) and probably some other things that I’ve already suppressed deep in my memory vault.

I’ll also have some nice shots of my peeps.*

* I’m destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it. -Naz

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6 Responses to “A Once In a Lifetime Shot”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Hey MadDog! Congrats on catching the mating nudis…as a fellow naturalist, I totally get how satisfying that must have been.

    The shots are beautiful, and I bet it was even more amazing seeing them live. The yellow is beautiful and that last hi-res shot is just awesome. Can’t wait to see this on my desktop.

    Do nudis lay a bazillion eggs? Do they set them free, or put them in clutches? I *really* got to get to that nudi post I’ve been thinking about, featuring your amazing work. I’m really looking forward to doing the research and finding out even more about these amazing creatures.

    Thanks for sharing this. Hope you get all those electrical problems figured and out fixed.

    (Thanks for stopping by my Extreme Science site.)

    With warm wishes,
    Steve

  2. MadDog Says:

    The boat is at the marina now being checked. That stupid mistake will probably cost me a bundle.

    I’ve seen and photographed nudi eggs many times. I just never expected to see them being deposited. The ribbon structure of the egg deposit is fascinating. I’d love to know how that hapens. I’ll look forward to any research that you do on the subject. It’s just too time consuming to wade through the material looking for details like that.

    I’m going back to Planet Rock soon. The Electric Swallotails are laying eggs there.

    Later,
    Jan

  3. Lorraine Collins Says:

    Hi Jan! Did you know that at thw right season you can get a gidzillion electric swallowtails at Blue Blood all in just 5-8 m. You might get some good shots there without dealing with raging currents!!

  4. Frank Peeters Says:

    Thanks for sharing these stunning images!
    This specimen of Notodoris minor (http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/notomino) is definitely depositing an egg string, but I fail to distinguish two of them. On the hires picture I can see two rhinophores in the bottom right hand section and gills on the left side partially covered by lobes. The rest looks like the back part of the same animal, which is in a crescent-shape posture typical for an egg-laying nudibranch.
    Also, as far as I know, for sea slugs mating and depositing eggs are two distinct events.
    I admit the shape of N. minor is quite irregular and at times it is hard to tell body parts apart. Once I dived with an UW photographer who after the dive was convinced we saw a frogfish – until he looked at the pictures.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Frank, I was so concerned about the photographic aspects of getting it right, that I didn’t really examine it closely. I’m used to seeing the N. minor much more egg shaped, not stretched out. It looked to me, at first glance that there was one in the foreground below and another behind above. Now that you explain how you see it, I can accept, with slight chagrin, that you are correct. It is one nudibranch. I’m also abysmally ignorant of much of the natural history of many of the creature which I photograph.

    Thanks for pointing this out to me. I’ll make an update to the post.

  6. Nudibranch Eggs for Breakfast | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    [...] One of the stars today is our little buddy, the Notodoris minor nudibranch:I’ve been showing quite a few of these lately. I’m having fun photographing an uncommon species. I’ve found a spot where they are hanging around for a while. I’m fascinated by them, but know very little as was recently pointed out by reader Frank Peeters who explained that, in a previous post, I was seeing double. [...]