Great Barracuda!

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Today begins a new pursuit for our J & E Enterprises Limited company. I’m going out to install the first VSAT dish which we have sold. I’m familiar with the technology, so the job should be simple and take only a couple of hours. On Monday, after the unit is switched on at the Orion terminal in Australia, our customer will enjoy Internet communications and VOIP (voice over Internet – think Skype) the likes of which have never before been seen in Papua New Guinea at the relatively low cost of these units. It really is an exciting event for us. It’s fun to be involved with what, in this country, is the cutting edge of technology. Never mind that it has been available in most of the rest of the world for at least a decade.

Here is your morning sunrise:

Provided I arise early enough, I should be able to show you a new one nearly every morning now that the dry season is arriving.

The subject of this post is the large, toothy critter in this sadly poor photograph:It is a Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). It’s not called “great” because it’s particularly famous or gifted or nice, but simply because it is big. I reckon that this one was about a metre and a half long. I tried my best to sneak up on it while it was getting the fishy equivalent of a car wash here at a “cleaning station” where tiny cleaner wrasse swim around and pick off tasty parasites from the barracuda’s skin – even inside its mouth! However, the instant it sensed me as a possible threat (pretty unlikely, I’d say), it shot of so quickly that it was just a blur in my eyes. Its departure was accompanied by a sound like a whip snap and a general panicky scattering of all of the fish in the general area as they hurried to get out of its way. It was quite a spectacle.

The water at Barracuda Point was murky, so the photo is very poor, despite my being only about three metres distant from the fangy bullet. This is only the third or fourth Great Barracuda which I have seen here in over 2,000 dives.

I have selected the rest of my images today not for their excitement, but rather for their calm, restful beauty. Here is one of my favourite creatures, the Mushroom Coral (Fungia fugites or possibly F. scutaria):

This one is resting next to the large colony of beautiful green and white Sea Squirts, Lissoclinum patellum.

This is a very lovely Divericate Tree Coral (Gendronephthya roxasia) which is growing between the hulls of the old wrecked catamaran on the ocean side of the barrier reef at The Eel Garden near Pig Island:

The Tree Corals are some of the few things which I like to use flash to capture. The way that they light up seemingly from the inside out is quite amazing. This one has a wonderful blue and pink colour scheme which I have not seen before. As soon as I began to work with this image my mind drifted to the recent movie Avatar. That film is packed with creatures which any diver would immediately recognise.

Here is another colonial animal which is best seen with flash. It is some species of Semperina, I think:

In ambient light it is a dull brown. When the full spectrum of sunlight hits them, as a camera flash is designed to replicate, it light up bright red.

We may as well finish up with a couple of Disneyesque Nemo impersonators. The Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) has certainly become the most universally recognised reef inhabitant on the planet:

That’s it for today. Tomorrow is Dive Day. I’ll be back to waste more of your valuable time.

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4 Responses to “Great Barracuda!”

  1. Ahna Says:

    Oh I love the sunrise. Funny thing of the Barracuda, when I had braces on my teeth (of course i was quite a mess after the accident) I was called Ahna the piranha. I laugh now but it was cruel. Why the Barracuda reminded me of that was maybe they are scary toothy fish. LOL Anyway as for the tree coral I only thought that glowing plants were only in Avatar. So thanks to you I have a new crinkle in my brain and will be doing some research on this.

  2. MadDog Says:

    Ahna the piranha – I like that one. I bet you were scarier than a barracuda. It’s good to be able to laugh now. Nobdy was laughing at the time. Isn’t it lucky that bad memories soften and fade more quickly than good ones?

    Eunie and I were counting all of the creatures in Avatar that are based on reef critters which we see here – even the glowing ones. The whole atmosphere was very familiar to a SCUBA diver of tropical waters. Much of it reminded me of a night dive. We finally lost count of the similarities.

  3. andhu Says:

    all shots are nice.. do u think cannon G10 is good camera for underwater personal photography.. thax

  4. MadDog Says:

    Andhu, I used the G10 before I got the G11 and was very happy with it. I’d recommend it, but you’ll probably have to buy a G12 now, as it is the latest model. You might find a G10 used, but it would be better to go with the G11, as it has lower noise at high ISOs. Whatever you get, put it in the Canon factory housing appropriate for the model. It’s the cheapest and easiest to use housing.