The Night Before Fishmas


I subscribe to a local newsletter for divers and this was published there this week.  It is a lot of fun, so I thought I would share it here.  Courtesy of Ken Kurtis, Owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.

With inspiration from (and apologies to) Clement Clarke Moore . . .

‘TWARS the days before Christmas, and all through the sea
not a creature was stirring, with the exception of me.
The stockings were hung on the kelp fronds with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would swim there.

The fish were nestled all snug in their cracks,
while visions of baitballs called to them as snacks.
And Mama in her beanie, and I in my hood,
were entering for a dive we thought would be good.

When off in the distance there arose such a splash,
I  parked Mama on shore so I could make a dash.
Inflated my BC, I kicked on out,
squinted my eyes to see what this was about.

The moon on the breast of the rippling waves
gave the luster of shimmer above the fish caves.
When, what to my salt-stung eyes should appear,
but eight Black Sea Bass with a boat in the rear.

With a little old diver, gearing up lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
Down went the anchor and up went the flag,
and Nick arranged fish toys inside his bag.

But Nick had no buddy, and then he saw me,
when he motioned to join him, I accepted with glee.
We completed a buddy check and started on down,
following the kelp to the bottom we did bound.

He was dressed in a drysuit, from his neck to his foot,
but his fins were all ratty from the pounding they took.
A bundle of fish treats he had in his sack,
plus bigger gifts that would keep things on track.

He was chubby and plump, as we all get with age,
but I was happy to join him on this aquatic stage.
A wink of his eye meant we had to run
because there was so much work to be done.

He spoke not a word, since we were underwater,
and left gifts for the fish, not missing a quarter.
But I could tell from his demeanor, he wasn’t quite done,
of the gifts to the fish, there was an additional one.

So he gave me a sign and lay his finger to his nose,
and giving a nod, to the surface we rose.
As he surveyed the water, he gave me a smile,
and I had a good feeling we’d be done in a while.

Nick took off his mask, and waved his right hand,
water bubbling and shimmering above the calm sand.
He had just created the best gift of all,
a Marine Protected Area, and the fish were enthralled.

Now they could swim, and with much less fear,
of the bubble-blowers descending in new diving gear.
Fish stocks would be healthy, their numbers would grow,
St. Nick works his wonders in water and snow.

With his task completed, Nick kicked to his boat,
Got out of his dive gear, and put on his coat.
Up came the anchor and down came the flag,
He’d done good work but he didn’t brag.

His eyes gave a twinkle, to his Sea Bass he whistled,
And away they all jetted, with the speed of a missile.
But I heard him exclaim, as he slipped out of sight,
“Merry Fish-mas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Shine Little Glow-worm, Glimmer, Glimmer…


Glow little glow-worm, glow and glimmer
Swim through the sea of night, little swimmer
Thou aeronautical boll weevil
Illuminate yon woods primeval
See how the shadows deep and darken
You and your chick should get to sparkin’
I got a gal that I love so
Glow little glow-worm, glow

(Click Here to sing along with the The Mills Brothers)

For the past year, I’ve been toying around with a relatively new technique in photography called Flouro Photography.  It is based on the bioflourescence of organisms.  Now, many of us are familiar with bioluminescence, but not necessarily with bioflourescence.  So here is the difference:  A glow-worm produces and emits light.  So do several different types of fish, fireflies, bacteria, and well, lots of living organisms.   As interesting as that is, that is not what I’m about today.  Bioflourescence is when light is absorbed by an organism and re-emitted on a different wavelength than is visible to the human eye.  The way this has translated into recreational viewing is simple.  The viewer must shine an intense blue light on an organism, and as it is re-emitted as a different color, the viewer must look through a yellow tinted barrier in order to see it.  Here’s an example:

White Daisy with green center, re-emits purple and yellow.

White Daisy with green center, re-emits purple and yellow.

This daisy was photographed using a blue light, with a yellow filter over the camera so that the camera’s “eye” could see the color that is emitted back by this plant.

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Here is another example of a “glowing” flower.  In a weird fun-house sort of way, it is more beautiful than it looks in sunlight.

When bioflourescence is viewed at night and under water, the world comes alive with things that may not have even been visible in sunlight.  This tiny anemone looks like a small volcano erupting on a dark landscape.

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This Lizard Fish is interesting because it doesn’t always emit the same color.  This one emits a greenish hue, but I have seen others that bioflouresce red or orange.

Lizard Fish

Lizard Fish

This organism is intricate and beautiful and all its wonderful detail is emphasized when it is viewed under blue light with a yellow barrier filter.

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 If you are interested in seeing what bioflourescence looks like, you can redneck it pretty simply:  Put blue cellophane over a bright flashlight, and put yellow cellophane in front of your eyes, and go snipe hunting at night.  You might see something you’ve never seen before.  If you are interested in checking this technique out while diving, ask the local dive shop if they rent the equipment.  Many tropical dive resorts now have bioflourescent dives as an option.  I would highly recommend it!

For those who want a little more technical information:  Light and Motion makes a light called the NightSea that is a blue dive light with a filter that can be attached to make it a regular dive light.  They also make barrier filters that can go over your mask and your camera housing so you can see and take photographs.  The photographs above were taken with a wide open aperture about f/5.6, Shutter speed around 1/50th, with ISO set to around 600-1200.  Some experimenting is in order to get the right effect.

I have always thought I must be part mermaid but I have to hand it to Winston Churchill who said,  “We are all worms, but I do believe I am a Glow worm.”

As always, if you enjoy my images please “like” or “follow” me!  You can also visit my website,waterdogphotography.com, or give me a “like” on Facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
My photographs are taken with a Nikon 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.