Upside down jellyfish in the mangroves
We encountererd the moon jellyfish on most of the dives in the Jardines de la Reina. They may seem to be the most mundane subject until the low rising sun paints them with spectacular rainbows.
Yawning red grouper
Groupers accompanied us on most dives at Jardines de la Reina. They usually yawn to display territorial behaviour. We photographed them coming to our dome ports without a single yawn. I captured three instances of yawning in a distance of circa one meter away. This one was the most dramatic, with the evil eye looking straight at me.
I saw Peter Brendt photographing this blenny in a piece of accessible coral. When Peter finished and I set the camera for maximum magnification with the Nauticam Super Macro Converter, I realised that this blenny actively stalks pieces of organic matter floating around. I had another three images with his eyes rolling and beaming at various pieces of fluff. I loved its expression on this image but unfortuntaly captured the frame without the floating subject. The plankton, therefore, comes from a different frame to give the blenny a reason to turn its eyes up. These blennies grow to diameter of 2-3 mm (0.1 in) and I worked with hair-thin depth of field (area of sharpness) so I was surprised to see some of the floating matter in the images at all.
This giant barrel sponge could be over 200 years old
The largest giant barrel sponges grow to height of two metres (6 feet) and are probably more than 2000 years old. The one photographed here (4 feet or 120 cm) can be circa 200 years old.
They are common in the Jardines de la Reina and I thought a simple approach will be most suitable. I tried to illuminate the sponge without the light spilling over on the reef around it. Thank you, Peter, for being such a great model.
The Revolutionary Blenny
This spinyhead blenny found rather a fitting home for itself. Being loyal to the idea of the Cuban Revolution and clearly expressing its opinions, it could not find a coral or a sponge with a better colouration.
Indeed, I am joking. However, the red sponge forms a brilliant background for the image. The sponge was growing low above the reef, on an old stick of coral, so I was able to get a two-finger-grip with my left hand and rest the camera with the Sigma 150 mm macro lens and the Nauticam Super Macro Converter on my left forearm to stabilize it. Stability was essential because these little buggers measure about 2-3 mm (0.1 in) in diameter.
Two crocs are better than one
There were three moments at Jardines de la Reina when I got really excited. I mean that mix of excitement and fear, when you feel intensively alive: one was when Nick More found a massive goliath grouper. The fish was good two metres (six feet) long and one metre (three feet) in diameter. It was not happy seeing us and started to make a loud thumping sound resembling an underwater explosion. Second one was being in the frenzy of five 2-2.5 metres (6.5-8 feet) long silky sharks when a wave rocked our boat on the surface. The boat hit the shark underneath and the shark pushed me with its body and its tail at least half a metre deeper. And lastly realising that there are two crocodiles in the water rather than just one…
I feel reasonably comfortable with one croc. Clad in black I pretend to be a carrot and generally something the croc should not be interested in. No flapping hands, just slow moves, all tucked in and neat, camera with a massive dome port in front of me. This changes when there are two crocs in the water. The diving mask allows for only a narrow angle of view. And who knows what jaws and teeth lurk behind you.
The title is a paraphrase of a song from the TV series How I Met Your Mother – “Two Beavers Are Better Than One”. It came to my mind when Alex Mustard said that it is nice to have a photograph of a crocodile. But having two crocodiles in one image is outright greedy! 🙂