The Red Stripe Cardinalfish

When diving in the Perth region of Western Australia, it is common to find a relatively lonely fish hovering in small confined spaces, watching larger animals swim past from its vantage. This fish has a deep marroon colour with glittering white-blue stripes. Measuring only a few inches and usually no bigger than a tennis ball the species scientifically named Apogon victoriae is a fantastic macro subject.  

Not too flighty and cautiously curious this fish never completely hides making it common for images to have only a portion of the fish peeping out of its home. The eyes of this species are comparatively large in terms of its body size. This allows it too hunt for the small invertebrates such as copepods and amphipods often found on reefs and rocks in which it makes its home.

The male Red Stripe Cardinalfish is the main care taker of this species offspring. Mouth brooders such as this fish incubate fertile eggs in their mouth until the young are a few days old. While I haven't had the opportunity to take a picture of this behaviour I am constantly on the look out for this species in the hopes that I can share it with you here.

The Gloomy Octopus

Octopus tetricus

Octopus tetricus

While it may seem like the title to a children's book, the Gloomy Octopus or 'Octopus tetricus' is infact a real species. Found in Australian waters this species grows quite large and is commonly found wedged into crevices and between rocks.

When diving in Australia if you're careful enough to keep a look out for these critters you can easily find them by following the trail of crab shells, mussel shells and other bivalve shells to their hidden lair. An exceptionally strong cephalopod these octopus can use shells and other debri as literal shields blocking the entrance to their home.

Notice his shell shield? 

Notice his shell shield? 

If you look closely at the pictures featured you will notice a shell in the bottom left hand corner.  This particular octopus would use this shell as a door, closing it everytime I got too close. We played this game of cat and mouse for a while until it got comfortable enough with me to get these pictures. 

Like others of its family the Gloomy Octopus has remarkable camouflage abilities, able to recreate exceptional patterns and textures to pinpoint accuracy. Often times you can easily overlook an octopus until you see its eye. While this species are labeled as 'gloomy' you can often coax them from their homes simply by looking at them, intensely curious, this octopus is always inspecting new objects and animals, a sure sign of intelligence in my books. 

 How about yourself? Have you noticed octopus behaviours while diving? Let me know in the comments below. 

The Giant Cuttlefish

A Giant Cuttlefish

If you have been following my Instagram for any amount of time, you may have stumbled upon my enthusiasm for cephalopods. Cuttlefish being among this family of animals, along with squid and octopus. 

The Giant Cuttlefish is a common sight in South-Western Australian dive sites, growing to, you guessed it, giant proportions (atleast for cuttlefish). This species like others of its family have mastered thier camouflage abilities to the extent of even communicating via patterns, colours, and textures displayed on thier highly adaptable skin. 

To top off thier amazing camouflage abilities cuttlefish and other cephalopods are known to be some of the smartest animals in the oceans. They not only possess incredibly complex brains, but are capable of deep behaviours and problem solving that dwarfs many of our vertebrate friends.

They can even simulate lights!

The diet of cuttlefish generally consists of small fish and invertebrates that are unlucky enough to not notice thier stealthy approach. When a prey item is found, the cuttlefish uses a pair of feeding tentacles they project at the target at lightning speed. Some species are even know to flash colours quickly to lure and mesmerise thier prey. 

Because of these complex behaviours, amazing camouflage and predatory nature, its no wonder why I am always so excited to encounter these aliens from the deep. but how about yourself? what animal or subject excites you to photograph or see no matter how many times you see it.

October 15, 2016