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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More Reef Scenes – For Pity’s Sake, Somebody Stop Me!

Posted in Under the Sea on February 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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Man, I’m just freakin’ out! Good things are popping up like Jack-in-the-boxes all over the place. I’m hoping to be able to make some highly amusing announcements over the next couple of weeks. Eunie and I will have several bits of news that will surprise a lot of people. (No, we’re not  having a baby!)

None of these involve web connectivity, unfortunately, as the MadDog/TELIKOM war continues. Today’s dispatch from the front:  A spy informs me that several major cables, affecting hundreds of customers, are full of water and the equipment used to clear them out is not being employed. This is a problem that can be fixed and someone has simply not fixed it. I talked to the manager this morning and he said that he has instructed the crews to use the equipment to blow the moisture out of all of the cables. We’ll see how that goes. It should improve service for many customers. He also informed me that the long-awaited USB dongles for Internet connections should be available shortly. Let’s see what the definition of “shortly” turns out to be.

Wow, I’m in a good mood today. I’m going to make the most of it. If it doesn’t rain this afternoon I’m going to give myself the PM off and take a Harley ride with a friend. I hope to have some photos tomorrow. I got this schmaltzy picture of the sunrise this morning:I saw a remake of Hair  the other night and the tune of Good Morning Starshine  has been tickling my neurons at odd moments. It was generating extremely strong vibes this morning. So strong, in fact, that I added a fake star to the image above.

Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below

Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song

Gliddy gloop gloopy
Nibby nobby nooby
La la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba dabba
Le le lo lo
Dooby ooby walla
Dooby abba dabba
Early morning singing song

Well, that certainly made me feel better. I hope you know the melody so that you could sing along as I did. It took me several tries to get the words right. It was a pleasant little task, requiring a nimbling of the tongue that I haven’t practiced since my acting classes. (What a waste of time that  was.)

I am presently listening to a lovely female artist by the name of Bebel Gilberto. She was born in America of Brazilian descent. She sings bossa nova as it was born to be sung – very smooth and sensual.

Before I start stinking the place up with more fishy stuff, here’s a nice panorama of Madang across the harbour from my house:I got the shot yesterday afternoon. It’s a stitch-up of nine frames.

First, I’ll show you the cute little chubby nudibranch with the disgusting name (Phyllidiella pustulosa): It’s hustling along at top speed along a white sponge.

Now, here is a coral of the Lobophylia  persuasion:Might make an interesting desktop background or screen saver if you’re in the mood for a little day-tripping.

Ah, and now on to the reef scenes. The two are quite similar, but with amusing differences in detail, showing how, in a few seconds the scene changes:You’ll probably by now recognise the Ornage Finned Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus):I suppose that I’ve annoyed you sufficiently for today, so I’ll say adios  until tomorrow.

Adios.

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