What do you see in my blog?

black cheeked moray

black cheeked moray

On Monday, my blog will be one year old. It seems to be traditional to celebrate your first ‘blogiversary’ by reflecting on the previous year, asking people what they think of your blog, analysing your statistics, stuff like that. I’m not going to do that, … much.

By far the most popular article on my blog this past year has been Charles Darwins’ first theory of evolution, with Songs about Pollution a distant second. Quite why people are so fascinated with singing about pollution is beyond me, I’m not sure I really want to know, so I’m not going to analyse my stats more than that.

So, I’ve decided to celebrate my blogiversary by asking “What do you see in my blog”, but with a twist. Here are some photos of fish and other creatures that live on coral reefs. Some, like the black-cheeked moray at the top, are always easy to spot. Others manage to hide themselves well, even when you’re looking straight at them. That’s what these photos are about, and I invite you to see if you can identify them. Thanks to Earth, Wind & Water for giving me the idea.

As always, if you click on the photo you will get a larger version, which will definitely help in some cases. I’ll add a comment in a few days identifying everything, in case you can’t make them out.

Looking at these pictures again makes me wonder how many times I’ve looked at a reef and missed something. I’m sure it’s happened a lot, there’s so much life down there that I must surely have missed more stuff than I can imagine. That’s part of the magic of diving, you can dive the same place time and time again and still find new things to enjoy.

These photos were all taken in the Maldives, the only place I’ve dived with a camera. It takes a lot of practise and luck to get good underwater pictures. Some of the subjects are hard to see because the shots capture the way in which it blends in well with its surroundings, others are hard to identify because the photos are not really all that good. Never mind, here goes!

This first one is easy enough. It takes some practise to be able to spot them when you first start diving, but when you get the measure of them it’s often easy to find them – some of them, at least. In the Maldives, if not elsewhere, they can get quite large, 12-18 inches (30-45 cm), and often hide right on top of the reef at 15-30 feet (5-10 metres) depth, where the light is good.

mystery fish 1

mystery fish 1

This one is rather harder. I dived several times at this location, in Ari Atoll, but never once found this fish for myself. Even when you know where to look for them they’re hard to find. Like many smaller fish, they have a habit of turning themselves to present a narrow profile to larger creatures (such as me) to better avoid being spotted.

mystery fish 2

mystery fish 2

This one is even harder to identify. If you don’t know this fish exists, you probably won’t see it. Like the fish in the photograph above, it insisted on turning itself narrow-side on to me, making it harder to get a good picture of it. I wonder how many of these I’ve overlooked, this is the only one I’ve ever seen.

mystery fish 3

mystery fish 3

This one is the hardest of the lot. Even I have trouble making it out. I can see a fin easily enough, but to figure out exactly where the head is, the body, and the tail, that takes some scrutiny. If I recall correctly, I only saw this one because it moved.

mystery fish 4

mystery fish 4

This one is fairly easy. This is the only one of these I’ve ever seen, and it was big, about the size of a watermelon. I like diving close to the reef, moving slowly along it looking for small things hidden away. Finding myself almost eyeball-to-eyeball with this guy came as quite a surprise. Incidentally, this is one good reason not to touch the reef while diving. These things are poisonous to the touch, and well camouflaged.

mystery fish 5

mystery fish 5

Lastly, this is one of my favourite photos, though not one of my best. I wanted to get a picture of the banded boxer shrimp, but the camera chose to focus on something else instead, and I’m glad it did. So the question is, how many shrimps can you see in this photo? I’ll give you a hint, there are more than two.

how many shrimps do you see?

how many shrimps do you see?

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