The Coral Corral

Posted in Under the Sea on March 16th, 2010 by MadDog
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Sometimes I get tired of chasing fish around. As a rule, I don’t do that, but we all know that rules are made to be broken. It happens most often at the end of a dive, when I should be moving in an orderly fashion toward the surface and I see that fish,  of which I have no image. Oh, yeah. It’s decision time. Check my air – okay; I always have plenty left at the end of a dive. I breathe mostly with my gills. That fish  is inevitably going down.  You are not supposed to end up your dive deeper than your last few minutes. That’s called a reverse-profile dive. It can build up too much nitrogen in your body and make your blood fizz like a freshly pulled Guinness.

So, what I usually do is say adios  to that fish  and slide up to five metres for my safety stop. Coral, however, requires no chasing at all, since it does not move. It may wave around, if it’s limber, but it stays firmly fixed to the reef and poses very nicely.

Therefore, today I’ll show you a pretty selection of corals that I corralled on our dive at Magic Passage last Saturday. I believe that you’ve seen all of these species here before, but these are much prettier pictures. The Canon G11 is making it so easy to get great shots that I’ll soon have to find new challenges. Hmmm. . . underwater fashion photography . . .

This young Divericate Tree Coral (Dendronephthya roxasia)  stands out nicely against the dark background:If you look carefully, you can see a diver in the distance.

I really like photographing D. roxasia  because there are so many beautiful colours available and they look completely different when the lighting changes. Sometimes they seem to glow as if lit from inside: The shot above accentuates the crispness of the coral image because the foreground and background are out of focus. It is a nice technique for “framing” your subject.

I am heavily into patterns. Something about them calms me. Corals make great subjects. This Diploastrea heliopora  is a good example:The individual polyps are about 1 cm in diameter.

Here is a shot of another specimen differing in colour and with a little more acute angle of the light:All of these images are more interesting if you click to enlarge. These regular patterns make mesmerising desktop backgrounds. Maybe a little too much so.

Here is one of the many wildly differing Leather Corals. This one is a species of Lobophytum:There are so many different leather corals that it’s difficult to identify a specimen from a single reference. I have only one book. It takes far too much time to dig into the web for a species name. That’s why many shots here give only the genus. I could not identify the species.

Here’s another one that is a mystery. It’s a coral of the Sea Whip mob, some species of the genus Ctenocella:They are very pretty and add a little action to the scene, waving around like wheat in a summer breeze. These are about as tall as full-grown wheat.

This outlandishly red coral is of the genus Lobophyllia:They are easy to spot, since they are about the reddest items on the reef.

Here is an interesting shot of the coral Goniopora djiboutiensis:I’m not sure what’s going on here. The white polyps appear to be the same species as the brownish ones in the background – the normal colour. I do not understand why this particular bunch of polyps on these old reef knobs are snow white. Maybe someone can explain. UPDATE: My Facebook friend Roshan Abeywickrama suggests that this may be G. lobata,  which I agree is a good possibility. I’m certainly no expert.

Finally, I give you one that I have been trying to photograph properly for years. It is very difficult to get the green to look natural. If you use flash, you have no chance. The colour is a combination of the pigments in the slimy coating of the very hard, brittle tree and the spectrum of light at that depth. The Tubastraea micrantha  has caused me much aggravation:I think that I’ve just about got it figured out. This is as close as I’ve come to reproducing the exquisite deep green colour that I see in this coral with my eyes at about twenty-five metres.

I’m almost there.

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Underwater Miscellanea – Yet Again

Posted in Under the Sea on November 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m working like a dog today, the day after American Thanksgiving to get a new calendar put together, hopefully to make a few bucks selling it. Before I go back to the Publishing Department to use their equipment, let me show you a few of the less ordinary images from my library. I don’t have a theme today. My mind is more or less blank. That seems to be happening a lot lately.

This is a spooky image of the interior of The Henry Leith,  a 34 metre cargo ship that was scuttled off Wongat Island  for an artificial reef and dive attraction:Interior of The Henry Leigh near Wongat Island

Creepy, eh? The image seemed to be more interesting in monochrome. Simon and Garfunkel were wrong. Not everything  looks worse in black and white.

This lump-of-coal thingie is an Egg Cowrie (Ovula ovum).  It’s quite rare to see them. They always seem to favour this Leather Coral (Sarcophyton sp.)  as a resting place:Egg Cowrie - Ovula ovum

They make horrible photographic subjects. The mantle is as black as the inside of a witch’s psyche. I’ve often wondered if it looks different to fish. Maybe it reflects some portion of the light spectrum that our eyes can’t see. You can barely see some of the snow white shell peeking through the seam where the two halves of the mantle meet.

This, I think, is a very juvenile specimen of the coral Heliofungia actiniformis:Coral - Heliofungia actiniformis ?I put it in here because, to us divers, it is a cute little baby thing. We bubble stupid stuff to each other like, “Awwww, look at the sweet little baby Heliofungia actiniformis.  Coochie coochie coo.”

It’s true.

Speaking of babies, these will grow up to have very big teeth, indeed:

Barracuda [juvenile] species unknownThey are juvenile barracuda. I don’t know what species. It’s interesting that the juvenile form here looks like a perfectly miniaturised copy of the adult.

Okay, back to work on the calendar.

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