Mesoamerican reef diaries. Macro photography

I recently had a chance to practice some macro photography underwater and I gladly embraced this possibility:)

I did two dives with different focuses presets, so here will be “true”macro and portrait-like crops.

You probably know this one: it’s a spotted moray eel. I found two of them inside a coral eating a dead parrotfish!

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Spotted moray eel ©Marina Kudrya

This tiny threads are actually sea stars. They look more like weed during the day and almost don’t move, but once the son goes down they become active.

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Sea star ©Marina Kudrya

This is an arrow crab; they are usually 7-10cm large. Arrow crabs have a triangular onion-like body with around 8 legs; also they have two “arms” with claws. You can see the one with the blue edge, and this sad smile is actually its face:)

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Arrow crab ©Marina Kudrya 

Flamingo tongue is the most recognisable snail I think; it is also one of the most common species that inhabit tropical Atlantic ocean. When it is alive, the snail appears bright orange-yellow in color with black markings. However, these colors are not in the shell, but are only due to live mantle tissue which usually cover the shell. The mantle flaps can be retracted, exposing the shell, but this usually happens only when the animal is attacked.

Flamingo tongue is 18-44mm long and it feeds on the coral it lives.

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Flamingo tongue snail ©Marina Kudrya

These furry things are Christmas tree worms. They are attached to hard coral and can retreat themselves into a tube if threatened. They can bee various colours and can live in multiple colourful families on one coral head.

The worms’ most distinct features are two “crowns” shaped like Christmas trees. Each spiral is composed of feather-like tentacles called radioles, which are heavily ciliated and cause any prey trapped in them to be transported to the worm’s mouth. While they are primarily feeding structures, they also uses the radioles for respiration. These structures are called gills.25826155212_92069d2754_z

Christmas tree worms ©Marina Kudrya

This bearded fireworm is native to the tropical Atlantic and Mediterranean sea. They can be 15 to 30cm long, and also have gills all along their bodies. Its colors are varied and range from greenish, to yellowish, to reddish, grayish through white with a pearly glow. The bearded fireworm consists of many almost identical segments, the first of which contain its eyes and sensory organs. See that face?:)

The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact.

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Bearded fireworm ©Marina Kudrya

Hermit crabs are very cute animals:) They can often be seen strolling along the sandy floors underwater, leaving trails behind them.

Hermit crabs don’t grow their own shells, but use the other’s animals shells (most often of sea snails). As hermit crabs grow, they require larger shells, and here when the fun starts! Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, have been observed forming a vacancy chain to exchange shells. When an individual crab finds a new empty shell it will leave its own shell and inspect the vacant shell for size. If the shell is found to be too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the vacant shell for anything up to 8 hours. As new crabs arrive they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, holding onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size. Hermit crabs often “gang up” on one of their species with what they perceive to be a better shell, and pry its shell away from it before competing for it until one takes it over.

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Hermit crab ©Marina Kudrya

The next is one of my favourites: a porcupinefish (also can be called balloonfish, or like). They are similar to pufferfish, but can be easily differed by the spikes: porcupinefish have visible spikes when relaxed and puffers look smooth. Both pufferfish and porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their bodies by swallowing water or air, thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated.

Some species are poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. They are relatives to Fugu (Japanese word for pufferfish), a famouse Japanese delicacy.

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Porcupinefish ©Marina Kudrya

And last but not least is a scorpionfish. They have mastered their camouflage skills to a new level: you need to be very attentive to find them and even more attentive not to touch them. Scorpionfish (or Scorpaenidae) are a family of marine fish that includes many of the world’s most venomous species. Stonefish, another family member, is the most poisonous fish in world. It looks similar to this one, but is even harder to find due to a rounder body shape.

A beautiful lion fish also belongs to Scorpaenidae family.

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Scorpionfish ©Marina Kudrya

That’s it for today. Stay tuned!

 

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