Sun Comes Up – Divers Go Down

Posted in Under the Sea on March 4th, 2009 by MadDog
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When I get up early on a Saturday morning and it looks like this:

Sunrise in my front yard - Canoe and birdsI feel as if the world is grinning at me. I grin back.

Here’s some images from a recent Saturday Dive.

If the name on your Birth Certificate was Plagiotremus rhinorrhynchos, I’d feel empathy for you. If you can imagine the sad story of a boy growing up in a very tough neighbourhood with the name of Jan Messersmith, maybe you could appreciate my empathy. I still have scars on my knuckles to attest to the agony. I’ve never forgiven my mother for it. It’s even worse for this little fellow. His nickname is Bluestripped Fangblenny. No wonder that he’s hiding in a hole:

Bluestriped Fangblenny (Plagiotremus rhinorrhynchos)I’ve shown Blennies on Madang – Ples Bilong Mihere, here, here, and here.

I made it worse for myself when I reached the age of sixty. I decided enough is enough. I’m old enough to decide what I want to be called. So I changed the pronunciation of my given name. Instead of the much-maligned Jan (rhyming with can) I decided I wanted to be called Jan (rhyming with yon – as in “By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes”). As you can imagine, this caused much consternation and no little laughter among my friends. I felt like a clown. I still do. I don’t mind. Speaking of clowns, here’s a Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula):

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)I showed you another Clown Anemonefish here.

While we’re on Anemonefish, let’s have a couple of more. Try these Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):

Clark's Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)I have no idea who Clark is. I can only assume it is not Clark Kent. He doesn’t seem the type to have a fish named for him. However, his alter-ego might be proud to have an Amphiprion supermanii.

Hmmm . . . I appear to be drifting. I’m like a teensy-weensy tectonic plate drifting on a molten globe of magmatic thought. I’d better get out of here.

But, before I leave for the day, I’ll show you my favourite of the day. Here’s the darling, shiny, all-too-brilliant Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus): (you can find another Spinecheek here.)Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)Would that I were so handsome, but ça ne fait rien.

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A Feast for My Camera

Posted in Tattoos, Under the Sea on February 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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Yesterday, for our regular Saturday morning dive, we motored out to Pig Island  to check out the Eel Garden, one of our favourites.

Along with some ordinary, but nevertheless spectacular critters, we enjoyed some rare treats.

On the long wall that marks the outer side of the Eel Garden, I visited one of my favourite anemones. Its residents are Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus).  One of the pleasures of doing many dives in a small area over many years is that you get to know the fish as your neighbours. This is Mary Jane and her young cohabitant, Mike:
Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)Over on the other side of the wall at the old catamaran wreck, a double cluster of Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa)  was lit very nicely. I took a shot with the light available, eschewing my flash, as is my wont. It’s nicely balanced, not too bright, and the colours are somewhat muted – just exactly the way my eyes saw it:

Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa)

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I prefer shots that I’m able to capture with the light that is presented to me by nature. Sometimes flash is necessary (as in the Spinecheek shot at the top), but I prefer to show you the images that I saw with my naked eyeballs.

To illustrate the difference once again, here is the same shot with the flash turned on:

Bubble Coral (with flash)  - (Plerogyra sinuosa)

It’s more colourful, but it is not  what I saw.

Once in a while, maybe every hundred dives, we get to see something that blows us away. Here’s Albert, one of our Spanish divers, getting a shot of a giant flatworm. He had just gotten this new camera and this was his first dive with it:

Albert shooting the giant flatworm with his new camera

In case you don’t know much about flatworms (planaria), let me tell you that this one is huge. I can’t find it in my identification book, so it must be fairly rare. On the odd chance that anybody out there recognizes it or has a better book than I do, please let me know the species name:

Giant flatworm - Do you know the species?

On the other hand, new species are being discovered at the rate of dozens a year, so we may have  found something that has not yet been described.

Finally, Anna, another of our Spanish divers, has herself a brand-new tattoo:

Anna's new tattoo

And, a lovely one it is. I’m more into the pictorial designs rather than the abstract. However, this one, based on the henna hand designs, is certainly beautiful and very feminine.

Good job, Anna, for choosing wisely. It’s there for life, so I’m happy for you that it’s a good one.

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A Few of My Favourite Fish

Posted in Under the Sea on October 20th, 2008 by MadDog
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I’ve been trying to take a little time each day organizing my photographs so that I have some small chance of finding something that I want. If I’d been smart, I would have found a way to organize all my photos as soon as I put them on my computer by keywords.

I tried assigning the keywords “underwater”, “anemone”, and “anemonefish” to the photo below. Adobe Bridge allows you to assign keywords (as many as you like) to each image and then search by keyword. I searched for “anemone” and, sure enough, this photo popped up. The only problem is that I have tens of thousands of photos. Probably half of them or more should simply be deleted. I can already see what I’m going to be doing on during my next vacation time.

As I was going through some photos yesterday, I ran across some old pals. I’d like to introduce you to some of my favourite fish.

These little beauties are obviously Anemonefish. Specifically, these are Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus):

Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)

The shot above was incredibly lucky. Out of 100 – 300 exposures that I make on an average dive, I feel lucky if a handful are worth processing with Photoshop. I’m joyful if there is one that really makes me grin like an idiot. The frame above was one in a thousand. Everything was copacetic.

Anyone who doesn’t know this little fellow must have been engaged in intense navel contemplation in a cave for the last few years. Yes, it’s everybody’s favourite fish, Nemo. If you’ve not been formally introduced, he is an Anemonefish, specifically a Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula). This Nemo wannabe looks as if he is swimming onto the stage for a screen-test:

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)

Much as I hate to discuss filthy lucre in this carefree space, I must admit that the next photo has enriched the meagre coffers of Clan MadDog more than any other. I have sold this image several times over. It’s been in magazine articles, on the cover of tourist information booklets, and sold as metre-wide wall hangings. Its title is “Buddy.” He will soon feature on one of the dozen Papua New Guinea post cards that I am producing.

Divers call their paired-up fellow diver a buddy, so the name is a natural. Divers are like Nuns, we always travel in pairs.

Meet Buddy, another Anemonefish. Buddy is an example of the Orange Variation of Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):

Orange Variation of Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) - “Buddy”

I snagged the next image on The Henry Leith near Wongat Island. One can only describe it as a handsome fish. He displays a certain smug dignity in his tweedy suit. Formally, he’s known as Epinephelus miliaris. He introduces himself with a Bond-like smirk as Grouper, Netfin Grouper:

Epinephelus miliaris. He introduces himself with a Bond-like smirk as Grouper, Netfin Grouper.

Soon, I’ll write about the less congenial denizens of our salty, wet neighbourhood – the ‘friends’ that we keep at arm’s length.

We all know people like that. Fish are no different.

You will find other photos of anemonefish on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi here, here, and here.

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