It’s the little things….


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”  Maybe the Sherlock Holmes in me agrees and that is why I am fascinated by the little things.  In this post are some of the tiniest things I have found in the ocean.  All of them are smaller than one or two centimeters, and some of them I can’t explain.

Juvenile Frogfish

Juvenile Frogfish

This is a juvenile frogfish.  It was no bigger than my thumbnail.  They “hop” around on their front “legs” like a frog.  As they get older, they take on the coloring of their environment and become almost invisible to predators and their prey.

_DSC4104-Edit

Here a ghost shrimp poses on a Red Gorgonian.  Only 5 mm or so, I could not see it without a magnifying lens._DSC3132

The tube worms (above and below) are about two centimeters when their plumes are fully open.

_DSC2456-Recovered

The Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) is a highly prized subject to photograph because of it’s super camouflage and general cuteness.  This one was about a centimeter in length.

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies.  It can get up to 3/4 inch.  They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies. It can get up to 3/4 inch. They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is the nudibranch.  This one is known as a California Chromodorid (or Hypselodoris californiensis).  Although they can get up to 90 mm, this one was no longer than 10 mm.

_DSC4140-Edit

A colorful Simnia (Delonovolva aequalis) lays eggs along the stem of a red gorgonian (below).  It’s shell is around two cm long.  If not for the eggs, it would have been very difficult to see, as it blends nicely with it’s environment.

snail

Sometimes, things show up in photographs by accident.  In the two photos below, I had another subject in mind, but when I blew up the image on the computer screen, I discovered tiny creatures.  The first one is obviously a shrimp, about 2mm in length.  The second is anyone’s guess.  Just critters that resemble bugs.  They are marked with arrows, and are less than 2mm.

2mm shrimp-15 _DSC4099-sm

 In this case, the Sherlock in me gives way to Doris Lessing who said, “Small things amuse small minds.”  She may be right.

 

 

Advertisements

Aloha “Hāhalua” (Manta Ray)


I have had the pleasure of diving in the warm waters of Fiji with the world’s most beautiful soft corals, and the famed Great Barrier Reef with it’s colorful variety of fishes.  I have been diving in several places in the Caribbean ocean and spend my “home” days diving in the coastal waters of California, but nothing can compare to the wondrous experience of diving in Hawaii with the Hãhalua aka Manta Rays.

Dive lights illuminate two Mantas as they glide through the water.

Dive lights illuminate two Mantas as they glide through the water.

The dive takes place off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  Each night these beautiful coastal Manta Rays come in to feed on the plankton that is attracted by the diver’s and boat operator’s lights.

Manta Rays channel water through their huge mouths with the cephalic fins where plankton is caught and digested.

Manta Rays channel water through their huge mouths with the cephalic fins where plankton is caught and digested.

The Rays can be individually identified by the markings on their underside.  The Manta Ray in the center (below) is named  Vinny Ray.

Vinny Ray (a young male Manta) and two friends

Vinny Ray (a young male Manta) and two friends

I did the dive on two different nights and used two different dive operators.  On the first night, I went with Big Island Divers ,  A fine operation that I would recommend highly.  The second night I used Kona Honu Divers, and had a good experience with them as well.  Both operations were dedicated to making my experience a memorable one,  and they catered to me and my camera equipment.

Friends Susan and Madison watch "Lefty" glide overhead.

Friends Susan and Madison watch “Lefty” glide overhead.

The divers sit or kneel on the bottom (about 35 to 40 fsw) and shine their lights up in to the water column, while snorkelers and boats above shine their lights down.  This attracts plankton which the Manta’s come to feed on.  The Manta in the image above is named “Lefty” because his left Cephalic fin is paralyzed.

Behind you!

Behind you!

Vinny again, coming in from behind.

_DSC3993-Edit

Most Reef Manta Rays weigh up to 1600 pounds and have an average wing span of 16 feet.  Their eyes are positioned at the side of their head just above the cephalic fin.  They are known as the “gentle giants” of the sea and look elegant as they glide through the water.

_DSC3820

The Manta Rays have a slime coating on their body that protects them from infection.  If this coating is scraped off, the skin will get red lesions and possibly infections as you can see on the cephalic fins of this manta.

_DSC3654-2-Edit

The lights from the boats above and a diver below, shine toward the Manta as it passes over my head.  This is an experience I will not soon forget.  The Mantas swept within inches of my head and did barrel rolls in front of my face.  The Kona Hawaii Manta Ray night dive is rated as one of the top 10 dives in the world.  It rates as the number 1 night dive in my book.