Stingray Magic

Posted in Under the Sea on September 6th, 2009 by MadDog
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On Saturday morning we motored in Faded Glory  up to Wongat Island  to dive The Henry Leith.  It is a favored spot for stingray watching. The most common type of stingray in the local waters is the Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii).

The trick is to sneak up on them from behind, holding your breath as much as possible and catch them before they get nervous and take off. Often, you will see only their eyes protruding from the sand in which they have buried themselves. It is easy to glide right over one without noticing, which is probably the worst thing that you can do. This one is just taking off after letting me get close enough to get a good shot of him:

Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii) taking off

Now the stingray glides to a spot a few metres away where it feels more safe. This one is headed right into a school of Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello),  but they are no threat to the stingray (or me):

Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii) fleeing

When the stingray has gotten far enough away, it settles down onto the sand again:

Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii) landing

It’s fun to chase them around the wreck. Since the water is only about 20 metres here, you can spend about an hour doing it, unless it gets boring. In that case you have the entire wreck to explore while you finish your dive.

This image is not particularly good, but you can see the Pickhandle Barracuda from directly overhead in the shadow of The Henry Leith:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello)

There are plenty of potentially dangerous critters in the waters in which we dive, including some rather comical ones. However, we are careful and know what is safe and what is not. It is part of the magic of diving that there is risk. When the risks are considered and dealt with correctly, the risks themselves add to the enjoyment.

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Still More Fish – Nearly Caught Up Now

Posted in Under the Sea on August 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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Well, I’m actually writing Tuesday’s post on Tuesday. For the last three days, I’ve been play catch-up, since I had to hustle so much for some magazine articles that I am working on. I’m going to have to get Eunie to start cracking the whip two weeks before deadline times so that I don’t get so messed up again. I’m such a slacker. I never used to wait until the last moment for an assignment. I don’t like working under pressure. I don’t know what’s gone wrong in the last year or so. I seem to always be hurrying the last few days before a deadline and I don’t like that. I try not to let it affect the quality of my work, but I think that I’m really kidding myself about that.

Anyway, here’s a strange critter that could spoil your day much more than a missed deadline. In fact, if you were seriously stung by the spines on his dorsal fins, you could be dead,  not just late:


It’s one of the many varieties of Scorpionfish that live in our waters. Here’s another one:


From the front, it is very difficult to see the eyes. Try enlarging the image by clicking it and comparing it to the previous image.You might be surprised where you find the eyes in this image. The “monkey head” figure, is just a fluke of camouflage and the dark depressions where you might think to find the eyes is just a trick of the light and shadows.

The Dwarf Hawkfish, though only half as long as your finger, is so full of colour that it looks as if it were wearing a clown suit:

Dwarf Hawkfish

We have quite a variety of hawkfish here. I should mention that the SEARCH box on the sidebar of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  works quite well. Just enter “hawkfish” into the box and press <ENTER>.  You’ll see all of the posts in which the word appears.

Here is another shot that you may have seen before. I got this one at Planet Rock, I believe. It is a school of mixed Pickhandle Barracuda and Bigeye Trevally:

Pickhandle Barracuda and Bigeye Trevally

They tend to swim around in giant circles, so, if you get inside the circle, you can snap away happily for quite a while without having to chase them.

This is one of my best nudibranch shots. It is also one of our most colourful nudibranchs. The word means “naked lung”. You can see the breathing organs at the right side – the tail end:


Last, but certainly not least, is the Netfin Grouper. This fish seems somehow dignified to me, as if it were the undersea version of a banker or stock broker in a pin-striped suit. Whoops, maybe I did a little faux pas  there. Putting the word dignified in the same sentence with bankers and stock brokers these days might rub some people the wrong way. Oh well, it’s not for me to decide. I put my money under the mattress these days. I lose less that way:

Netfin Grouper

We’ll have to see if tomorrow something else pops into my head beside fish. I certainly hope so and that I have time to write about it.

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Chasing the Fish – Two Lucky Shots

Posted in Under the Sea on April 21st, 2008 by MadDog
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Rich Jones emailed to me a photo that he took at Planet Rock. I don’t often get a chance to see myself underwater. I’m madly chasing a school of barracuda with my camera stuck out in front snapping away. Here it is:

 Chasing Barracuda at Planet Rock

I was thinking about that day and looked back through my own photos to see if I could find one taken at the same time. Luckily, I found one that came out looking okay. Here is what I was seeing as Rich snapped his shot:

Barracuda at Planet Rock

The fish are Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello). We have previously called it the Chevron Barracuda and the Millitary Seapike, both of these I now think are species different from this one. Who cares? It’s a fun fish to swim with. Despite the reputation of barracudas these are pussycats. On occasions when I can get close enough, I’ve rolled over on my back and reached up to briefly tickle a tummy. They don’t much care for that.

Thanks, Rich, for sending it along. I look forward to being back in Madang on 4 June with my new Cannon G9 and housing.

And don’t send me any more emails about seeing Orcas while I’m here freezing off important parts of my anatomy.

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