It should be no secret to anyone who knows me, or reads my blog that I am a nut when it comes to the ocean. I can't spend enough time underwater enjoying it. I just passed the 39th anniversary of getting my initial SCUBA diving certification, so I've been doing this for a while. And even though all of my training strongly emphasizes the buddy system for diving, I sometimes think that becoming a solo diver would give me a chance to spend even more time underwater. But enough about me, let's take a look at today's photo.
I've written about nudibranchs before (see my blog post from 6/9/13), so I won't go into the specifics of these creatures that I covered there. I just want to talk about the incredible beauty that these sea slugs possess. The colors shown by the species in this photo are at once both bright and subtle. From the brilliant white and yellow of the main body to the subtle hues of brown and red on the cerata, or external gills, this animal is truly a work of art. The two red and white horn-like projections between the cerata are the rhinophores. Although little is actually known about what they do, it seems clear they play some sort of sensory function. In this species they resemble tiny bottle brushes.
Much of my underwater photography has focused on nudibranchs. They are wonderful subjects for macro photography and are usually the most brightly colored residents of the temperate reefs I most regularly frequent. They are also an example of what one misses by not at least occasionally taking a close look at the reef below you. All too often beginning and novice divers come to the conclusion that they've seen all there is to see when diving the California coast. It is these divers who would benefit most from simply slowing down and taking a really close look at the rocks they are gliding over. In doing so they'd see not only nudibranchs, but hundreds of other small organisms that are living right under their noses. And that's my advice to my beginning students - slow down, take your time, narrow your focus to the tiny things on the reef once in a while. You'll never know what you might find.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro lens on a Canon 5D MkIII. Exposure was set to 1/90 seconds at f/5.6 and ISO 100. The camera was in an Ikelite housing, and light was provided by twin Ikelite DS-161 strobe set on ETTL.