Auckland UW photographers know the place very well … weed stacks, shallow water, usually calm conditions, pipefish and seahorses, octopuses. Last Friday I went to the place as I was not sure about the water conditions on the open coast … I was excited I haven’t been in the water for a couple of weeks and also.
Perhaps I was excited too much. When I arrived to the spot I realised I forgot a small but very important part of my equipment … a tank band with a snap bolt to attach my tank to the harness. However, the weather was great so I decided to snorkel.
First I thought I would be looking for sea horses in the weeds. After about ten minutes I realised I didn’t have enough patience for that. The weeds have endless shapes, they are an ideal hiding place for such animals. To be honest, I’ve never found sea horses in those weeds. I saw a pipe fish twice or so but it happened only because it got out of the weeds.
I spent some time swimming along the shore in shallow water trying to find good photography subjects … e.g. anemones that look like flowers if they grow on tree branches. On my way back I got attracted by a big individual of gem nudibranch crawling on the bottom. I remembered the reasons why I love sea diving. The bottom around the wharf is very similar to what I was used to in the waters of inland Europe … fine grey-brown sediment, tree leaves, submerged tree branches. The main difference is there are those tiny colourful creatures in the sea that cannot be found in freshwater.
The wharf was empty, there were no fishermen there on that day which allowed me to spend the second half of my ‘dive’ sitting on the wooden stairs of the wharf and chase the shrimps on its poles. I love those creatures, they always remind me how close to us other universes full of aliens are. Sometimes they can be found only a couple of centimetres under the water surface.
White-tentacled anemone Anthothoe albocincta growing on a submerged tree branch only about 40 cm under the surface. It’s body is unusually pale.
I am not patient enough, after a couple of minutes I give up searching for sea horses and start observing the weeds. The shapes are endless offering a great hiding place for well camouflaged seahorses and pipefish.
Detail of the gills of a large individual of gem nudibranch Dendrodoris gemmacea. The breathing device is not protected but exposed … that’s why the guys are called nudibranches.
Detail of the front part of the same individual with its delicately corrugated ‘horns’. They show why the macro world is so attractive … the closer you get the more fascinating shapes you can see.
A common shrimp Palaemon affinis on a submerged timber of the wharf. The shrimp is mostly translucent with delicate patterns on the body and red bands on the legs.
A good way to take pictures of shrimps is to photograph them against the water background with high shutter speeds so no ambient light gets to the sensor. The result reminds an alien from a different universe.
The aliens are both cautious and curious. If the camera moves they disappear. If it stays still they appear, get close … and sometimes too close landing on the front glass.