Barracuda Point – Dirty Water – Disappointing Results

Posted in Under the Sea on November 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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We arrived at Barracuda Point  near Pig Island  on Saturday morning in bright sunshine. The water was very turbid with a lot of particulates drifting around. Miserable shooting conditions! I did manage to salvage a few shots from the lot. Not much to look at, I’m afraid.

This Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria)  looks like the entrance to hell:Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria) All it needs is some red-hot lava boiling down there in the bottom.

Hungry? Have some Pizza Anemone (Amplexidiscus fenestrafer):

Pizza Anemone (Amplexidiscus fenestrafer)As you may notice, I’m a little terse today. We’re still rolling out a new network at the office and, computers being what they are, it’s two steps forward and one back.

As I mentioned, the shooting conditions were awful. Here’s a mediocre image of a few listless Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus)  taken with flash:Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus) If the fish is in the right (or rather wrong)  position, the power of the flash blocks the side of the fish to full white, losing all detail. You get the same result if you take a picture into a mirror with the flash on.

Here’s another example of the much despised flash effect. Have a look at this imag of a Pixy Hawkfish [red variation] (Cirrhititichthys oxycephalus):Pixy Hawkfish [red variation] (Cirrhititichthys oxycephalus)The fish does not look anywhere near that red in natural light.

Here’s an absolutely terrible shot of an Eclipse Butterflyfish (Chaetodon bennetti):Eclipse Butterflyfish (Chaetodon bennetti)I’d have deleted it if it were not the only image that I have of this species. Oh, well. It gives me something to strive for.

Again I’m foiled, this time by a chunk of coral in the way. The Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)  likes to stay just far enough away from you to tease:Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)Your brain is saying, “Swim a little faster and you’ll have him!” Your body is saying, “Whoah! Heart attack time!”

Of course, by the time we came up a storm was passing over, everybody was shivering, and the wind was howling like a banshee. We went home for Saturday afternoon naps instead of the usual fun and games. Every day isn’t perfect.

Even in Paradise.

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Purple Lips and Elephant Ears

Posted in Under the Sea on March 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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On Friday afternoon, we went out to Pig Island  and dived at Barracuda Point. The water on top was very cloudy, so we headed deep to see what we could see. At about 40m we saw one lonely Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)  resting on the bottom. It was quite dark, so I had to make the shot monochrome to be able to use it:

Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)On the way back up, we saw this unusually bright colouration of an Elephant Ear Sponge (Ianthella basta).  They come in several different colours, red, green, purple, blue and this brilliant yellow. Im not sure what an elephant’s ear feels like, but these feel like one of those scratcher pads that you clean your post with. This one was about a metre long:

Elephant Ear Sponge (Ianthella basta)
The Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)  is one of the more difficult of the larger species to photograph. They are usually very shy and manage to keep just beyond camera range. I chased this one for about 50 metres before he slowed down enough and turned a little so I could get a shot at him. They are ridiculous looking creatures. God must have a rich sense of humour:

Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

Carol spotted this unusual Adhesive Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum).  It’s not visually spectacular, but it is spectacularly sticky. This one had a small shrimp in it, but my camera was acting up and I couldn’t use any of the controls. That’s why there are no macro shots in this post. Someone should investigate this anemone to see how it makes its glue:

Adhesive Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)

It is surprisingly rare to find a nice empty shell. I suppose that many people think that they are lying around all over the place. I find maybe one or two a year. When I spotted this one, I thought it must be inhabited by the original snail, because it was pristinely shiny. The shells of newly dead snails encrust quickly and lose their shine. That is because the creature’s mantle no longer covers it and protects its sheen.

Carol Dover

We never take shells that are occupied, either by their original inhabitant or some opportunistic squatter such as a hermit crab. If something is living in it, we leave it where we find it.

Here is a little gallery of the Purple Mouthed Cowrie (Cypraea  carneola)  so that you can see how pretty it is:

Carol will be leaving us soon, so I’m encouraging her to goof off as often as possible. She is doing a fine job.

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I Find a New Fish

Posted in Under the Sea on January 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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As you can see from the photos lately, I’m having some trouble with my new WordPress site. I liked the way the old one worked – the photos were full size and centred. Hopefully when my web magic man gets finished, the images will look the way they did. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with the way it’s working.

If anybody in North America or Europe notices that the site loads faster, please leave a comment to let me know.

After about 2,000 dives within about twenty minutes of my house, you’d expect that there is not much out there that I haven’t seen before. However, yesterday, on our regular Saturday dive, we went to Barracuda Point and I got a photo of an Anemonefish that I have not seen before.

Here is a White-Bonnet Anemonefish (Amphiprion leucokranos):

White-Bonnet anemonefish - Amphiprion-leucokranos

It’s not particularly stunning, compared to the colours of many other Anemonefish species, but it’s interesting to me, since I’ve never seen one before.

A fish species that I’ve seen many times before are these two large Angelfish. I don’t have my fish book here at the office, so I can’t be sure, but I think it’s called the Regal Angelfish.  UPDATE:  They are the Six-banded Angelfish (Pomacanthus sexstriatus). They are usually very skittish and difficult to photograph – you simply can’t get close enough:

Angelfish

The prize image of the day is this snap of a Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum):

Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

They are usually found rather deep and are extremely shy. The one above was keeping just out of range of my camera when suddenly he decided he wanted to go the other direction. As he hurried past me I panned the camera and snapped blind. I didn’t even know If I’d gotten an image at all until I loaded it onto my computer.

A more mundane image is this little huddling of tunicates. My brain is a little funny today, so it makes me think of a small hamlet of huts in a alien landscape:

Tunicate Town

Who or what lives in them? Are the big ones on the rich side of town? Aliens seem to be a lot on my mind lately. I wonder if that means anything? Maybe I’m going senile.

I like the fractal-like pattern in this colourful image of plate coral:

Plate Coral

I haven’t mentioned it before, but the images that you get when you click to enlarge are usually 1280 x 960 pixels. That’s just about perfect for a screensaver or desktop background. If any of my images strike your fancy, please feel free to use them for your own personal computer. The terms of my copyright allow that sort of personal use without notification or attribution. If you pass something along to a friend, please include the address of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi, so I can have the chance of picking up another reader.

I took these two sky shots yesterday just because I was looking for a new desktop background:

Blue Sky

More sky

I’m using one of them at my office now.

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