What was that? Mystified by this performance, and keeping one eye on the magical creature's flight, my fingers fumble in the gloom to switch on the camera and strobes. Now where did that fellow go? Oh wait, look at that.
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Brightening my focus light and looking up, the sea is absolutely teeming with life. It's as if all the space junk in the sky has become animated.
Hundreds upon hundreds of strange little beasties, swirling and twirling and dive bombing one another, while laconic, pulsating jellyfish with long trailing tentacles drift by. The doors to the 'Big Tent' have been opened! With so much going on, it is difficult to choose what to photograph first. This is the largest migration on Earth, known as vertical migration, and it happens every single night in oceans and lakes all over the world.
Come the night, what lives way down below in the mesopelagic zones larval and tiny pelagic rises to the epipelagic zone on the surface to feed, or be fed upon.
Merely a couple of miles offshore, we are literally in the Gulf Stream current off southeast Florida. We coast north with the flow, scuba diving to no more than 12 metres, but drifting over depths of metres. Armed with only a 60mm macro lens and a 10x dioptre in an underwater camera housing, it becomes evident that what was once strictly the domain of the scientific community has now presented an entirely new layer of ocean discovery through underwater photography.
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Being enveloped by ocean aliens, witnessing their secretive, magical world, one can only wonder why outer space would be fascinating to anyone with all this going on right in our own backyards. This demanding activity is not for the faint of heart. Is it scary? Oh yes, considerably. With a spectacular dive crew and a very special dive boat captain, for us it was feasible. However, one should not just steam out to the deepest part of the ocean and drop in to see what is happening without thorough training in correct practice and essential safety measures.
The darkness consumes your light. Have you ever driven down a road so dark that your lights could not penetrate the pitch blackness more than a few metres?
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So it is on a black water dive. There is no visible bottom and if you drop something, it is history. There are so many jellyfish your extremities must be covered at all times. You are moving, the ocean is moving, sometimes at a fairly decent clip. In the Gulf Stream current there are also cross currents and the base direction may even shift from north to south.
We have two standing orders from our captain: "stay with the ball, and never shine your lights in the captain's eyes when you come up. This type of macro photography is very challenging, but incredibly rewarding.
Night Magic () - IMDb
It is akin to gazing at the night sky through a telescope to locate a planet, where a slight movement can cause you to quickly lose your subject. Absolute stillness is essential to achieve focus, so buoyancy control is everything. A casual flick of your fins can send hundreds of living creatures spiralling out of control and only then do you realise how very delicate this environment truly is. Most of these creatures ascend the water column at warp speed.
Tulip Magic, Legends and Folklore
Some, like the larval mantis shrimp, are real characters. Inquisitive, they seem to enjoy themselves taunting the strange giants with the screaming lights by dive bombing camera ports or masks and doing whirlies and other frenetic movements to entertain themselves, only to stop suddenly mid-water, putting their oversized claw on their hip and simply observing you.
Each dive delivers a different cast of characters in the unfolding circus, which changes as we drift further north or into shallower waters.
We start to identify 'the regulars', creatures that can be seen on most every dive. Besides the mantis shrimp, we are pelted by thousands of baby squid, no more than an inch long, as the flock shifts as if evading a predator. Wait, what predator?
Suddenly, and quite comically, a tiny juvenile barracuda darts into frame as the flock scatters, littering the ocean in puffs of ochre ink clouds. My huge grin cracks the seal on my mask. As the weeks progress, the squid flock diminishes in numbers as they grow in size. Now, nearly fully grown, they seem to enjoy inking us. We are now the invading aliens.
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A vast variety of siphonophores are ever-present and challenging to photograph with their frail structures - plus they can outstretch their nearly invisible, sticky tentacles to ten times their length, and those tentacles sting! While observing several varieties of comb jellies displaying their bioluminescent rhythms, an Aequorea forskalis suddenly drifts into focus, spinning wildly, with a larval lobster running the treadmill atop its back, clutching a Nausithoe genus jellyfish in each claw.
Did you ever break away, how often did you try? Living with a cruel man must feel as cold as ice With fear of danger you see the sun rise.
More books from this illustrator: Rosie Reeve
Do you want me? Am I good enough? Or to soft to shy to get your love. VERSE 2 Oslo by night, we step into another life Blue ice and snow, we hike with cheeks that glow Under the Norwegain sun, wine, beer and fun A song around the campfire, we feel so very young. Felt that surging ocean of love in your heart? Do you know what you mean to me?
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