A Fish is a Fish is a Fish


I have been amused, while looking through images over the past year, at how many fish are called after another animal, or shape, or being!  Some are called by these names because they resemble the thing they are named for, others because they have characteristics similar to those things. See if you can tell why each fish is named after something else:

Batfish

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Scorpion Fish

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Box Fish

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Pipe Fish  (Which are so diverse, I had to narrow it down to just these four)

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Sea Horse  (Which is also a Pipefish)

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Frog Fish  (Another very diverse species)

A tiny frogfish  hunts for a meal

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Clown Fish

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Snake Eel

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Baitfish

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Angel Fish

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So, there you have it.  I could keep going, but don’t wish to become a bore. There are sea lions, butterfly fish, catfish, dog fish, and hog fish, and probably many, many more. Most of these animals are named for the thing they resemble, but the scorpion fish, for example, is named because it’s sting resembles that of a scorpion, and the pipefish because of it’s pipe-shaped mouth.

I wonder why land animals aren’t named after fish?

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810 or D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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Underwater Photography 101: “Peak of the Action”


A great underwater action shot can be the most challenging objective a photographer faces. Not only does it require that the photographer be thoroughly prepared, but patience and a fair amount of luck are involved as well. Perhaps the easiest of these requirements is being prepared.

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#1  Be Prepared

The image above is what we call a “grab shot.” A fast moving animal swims by, and you quickly grab an image and hope for the best. Or do you? This image was taken at the end of my dive as I was completing my safety stop. Previous to this shot, I had been shooting images with a sun-ball and so had my aperture stopped down and shutter speed high. Before I started my ascent, I changed my camera settings to f/8 and 1/125th just in case something came by. The key here, is that I prepared ahead of time for the possibility of a grab shot. I had seen some sea lions playing near the surface, and I hoped I would be able to get an action shot of them. Being prepared means that you are aware of what the possibilities are, and before you move on looking for your next subject, you set up your camera for the possibility. A good rule of thumb to remember is “f/8 and be there,” and a shutter speed matching the conditions (i.e.  With our without strobes? Close to the surface or deeper?) In this case, I used ambient light, and so had my shutter speed down a little. I could have used a faster shutter speed to freeze the action, but that would have required strobes, and I would not have achieved the great reflections of the sun on the sea lion’s body.

#2  Patience

Wait for it….

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Wait for it….

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Not yet…

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 Okay, NOW!

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It’s great to get a frog fish yawning, but knowing when the mouth will be open at its widest is the key to getting a “peak of the action” shot here. Spend a bit of time observing your subject if it is something that will hang around for a while. This frog fish yawned several times during the thirty minutes or so that I spent with it. It took a lot of patience and a lot of shots to get a keeper.

#3 What Does Luck Have To Do With It?

Snake Pit small

Luck may have less to do with it than you think. And yet, it is a factor. You can increase your chances of being lucky by being prepared, and increase them even more by studying your subjects. Many subjects will hang around for a while or may even live permanently in a specific place or area of a reef. If you want to get an image of a cardinal fish with a mouth full of eggs, for example, take the time to study the fish. Find out which ones are carrying eggs and what their habits are. Watch them and see how often they aerate the eggs and what the signs are that they are about to spit them out, or move them around.

mandarin fish spawning, with eggs

mandarin fish spawning, with eggs

These Mandarin fish mate at dusk in a predictable pattern.  The only bit of “luck” needed here was snapping the shot the moment the eggs were released.

Comorant fishing

Cormorant fishing

This cormorant along with several others made a number of dives through the huge baitball they were feeding on.  All I had to do was wait for it to come close enough (that was the “luck” factor) for a shot. Once you can identify the patterns of your subjects, you are much more likely to get the money shot:  “The Peak of the Action!”

If you have suggestions for underwater photography tips, or questions, please feel free to leave comments below.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Oh, I wish I were a (frog) fish!


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  Hog fish, dog fish, meet the Frog fish!

I have a good friend who has a fascination with frog fish.  And with good reason! Frog fish are one of the most interesting, and diverse creatures in the ocean.  I have learned a few things while visiting my friend at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines, about frog fish.  The first and most important thing is that frog fish are cool.

Besides being cryptically well camouflaged, the frog fish comes in sizes from the size of a pea to the size of a basketball.  It comes in various colors, textures and patterns too.

This was the first frog fish I ever saw.  It was in Hawaii, and only the size of my pinky fingernail.

This was the first frog fish I ever saw. It was in Hawaii, and only the size of my pinky fingernail.

Lest this sound like a clothing advertisement, let me tell you about it’s feeding habits.   A frogfish has a lure that it waves above it’s head, tempting other fish to come take a bite.

A large black frogfish waving it's lure above its head.

A large black frogfish waving it’s lure above its head.

But when that fish get’s close, the frog fish has a lightning quick strike.  Check out “One Little Speckled Frog” to  Watch a video, here.

A frog fish can open it’s mouth wide enough to eat a fish nearly the same size as itself.

Hairy Frogfish yawning

Hairy Frogfish yawning

If you watched the video, you can see that the frog fish stalked it’s prey like a cat, walking on its fins.  Frog fish don’t swim with their tails and fins like other fish.  Instead, they propel themselves through the water by pushing water through their mouths and out a valve behind their elbow-like fins.

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 Most of the time, they stay close to a sponge or rock which looks just like they do, and wait for their prey to come to them.  Look closely at the image below. There is a large frog fish front and center.  You can see it’s frowning mouth and it is tipping to the right.  Another brown frog fish is turned away from the camera behind the first.

There are two basketball sized frog fish camouflaged  in this image

There are two basketball sized frog fish camouflaged in this image

Some frog fish are brightly colored and don’t seem to be camouflaged at all.

A tiny frogfish  hunts for a meal

A tiny frogfish hunts for a meal

And the hairy frogfish has filaments all over it’s body that resemble the algae in it’s environment.

Hairy Frogfish

Hairy Frogfish

Only a few of these fascinating creatures are represented here, but you can check out the amazing portfolio and blog (click “critterhead) of my friend, Mike Bartick, to see an astonishing variety of frogfish including mating frogfish (click “What’s New”) at Saltwaterphoto.com.  If you are interested in seeing these critters for yourself, my favorite place to see them is at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines.

Parting Shot:

This cute freckled frog fish is multi-colored to help it blend in

This cute freckled frog fish is multi-colored to help it blend in

If you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
 All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Hair, Hair, Everywhere!


One of the freaky things about the under water world is discovering creatures that are “hairy.”  It never occurred to me that a fish could have hair, or a lobster or crab for that matter.  The interesting thing about hairy critters is that they blend in so well with their environment which is often made up of hair-like substances.  One of my favorites is the hairy frogfish.

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The Striated Frogfish (Hairy Variation) has all these filiments growing from it.  They live in or near filamentous algae and at about one or two inches long, are very hard to see.  They have a fuzzy lure atop the head which they use to attract fish.  The frogfish has a very quick strike and can eat another fish it’s own size.

Hairy Frogfish

Hairy Frogfish

Another hairy fish is the Yellow coral goby, or bearded goby.  It lives inside hard coral where it hides from predators.  This fish definitely has a cute factor with it’s chin stubble and big blue eyes.  What a heart breaker.

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The Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse is an interesting critter that is covered with various sized skin flaps.  It can be found living in sea grass and is only a few centimeters long.

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This fun critter is a Hairy Squat Lobster.  It lives on giant Barrel Sponges and blends into it’s pinkish environment.  It’s carapace is covered with numerous long white bristles.

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

The Algae shrimp (nicknamed hairy shrimp) are some of the most obscure tiny critters to be found.  They are only about 1/4 inch at best.  If you look closely, you can see that both specimen have a belly full of eggs.

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hairy shrimp

One day I hope to have an image of a hairy octopus (Yes!  Octopus!)  And the Lacey Scorpionfish has a coif that rivals the most cryptic of marine animals.  The amazing world of hairy creatures continues to inspire me, and lures me back to the water again and again in search of it’s crazy inhabitants.

All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

 

One Little Speckled Frog


One Little Speckled Frog (fish)

Sat on a speckled log

dangling the most delicious bugs,

Yum! Yum!

Frogfish are one of the more fascinating fish to observe.  They are equipped with a lure just above their mouth that they dangle like a delicious bug to attract other, smaller fish.  They have fins that resemble frog feet that they actually use to “walk”, or “hop” around on!  Their speckled camouflage closely resembles the speckled sponges that they hide among, and their shape also resembles the lumpy sponge.  They can be a variety of colors, including black, yellow, red, green, white–there are even hairy frogfish!

Frogfish "fishing" with it's lure out.

Frogfish “fishing” with it’s lure out.

This was one of the first frogfish I had ever seen.  At the time I was photographing it, I wasn’t aware that it was in the middle of a hunt that would end successfully.  After a few minutes observation I noticed a tiny fish swimming just to the right of the frogfish.

frogfish preying on a small fish attracted to its lure

frogfish preying on a small fish attracted to its lure

My subject noticed it too and turned toward it.  I started to adjust my camera to a new angle, when BAM!  Just like that, the little guy was gone.

The following photograph of a satisfied frogfish was taken 3 seconds after the above photo.

3 seconds after eating it's prey, this frogfish is satisfied!

3 seconds after eating it’s prey, this frogfish is satisfied!

Looking straight down on frogfish, you can see how it uses it’s “feet” to anchor itself in the rocks.

Clown Frogfish

Clown Frogfish

Here, a black frogfish waves it’s lure above it’s mouth.

Frogfish Lure
Frogfish Lure

This white frogfish has freckles that look just like the pores on the sponge it inhabits.  Amazing Camouflage!

White Freckled frogfish

White Freckled frogfish

The following video was shot by Brian Peterson, of a frogfish hunting and catching it’s prey:

Frogfish Hunting

… in Slow Motion

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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