28 July 2011

Photos: Two Oceans Aquarium’s photogenic underwater friends

Two Oceans Aquarium

The catfish, glassy, boxfish, sargassum fish, octopus, blue jelly and scorpionfish are just some of the wildly photogenic and colourful underwater creatures at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Here are seven striking photographs that’ll hopefully inspire budding photographers to new heights … Or should we say, new depths. All photos by Stefan Hurter.

This school of smallhead catfish are exhibiting an interesting survival technique: By swimming together so closely, they appear as one organism and therefore look bigger than they are. What a clever way of misleading potential predators.

In the background, you’ll see the near-transparent glassy fish, with a fan worm in the foreground. According to A Guide to the Common Sea Fishes of Southern Africa by Rudy van der Elst (Struik), “Glassies are small, carnivorous fish all of which frequent marine brackish waters. Their great abundance in some coastal lagoons makes them an important source of food for large predators.”

Is this triangular boxfish blowing us a kiss? According to Van der Elst’s book, “the only openings in the [boxfish’s] hard outer case are those making provision for the gills, eyes, small protrusible mouth, vent, and the movement of the fins”.

The seriously weird sargassum fish, according to the Encyclopedia of Life, “often crawls through the sargassum weed, using its pectoral fins like arms”. This one looks like it’s doing a little dance for the camera! Show-off …

Here we see our dear friend the common octopus in a rarely photographed position: spread out and displaying its eight tentacles for all the world to see! Look at those gorgeous textures on its skin. The octopus is the master of camouflage and is renowned for its rapid colour changes. It can adapt its body colour to match that of the surrounding environment within seconds, and thus ensure its protection.

This blue jellyfish, which ranges in colour from very light blue to dark purple and burgundy, appears dark red in this image because of Aquarium lighting. Although referred to as “jellyfish”, these strange creatures are not fish at all, but are related to sea anemones and corals. They are simple creatures. Although they have a mouth, they have no anus, liver, pancreas or intestine. They have no lungs or gills – the walls of the body and tentacles are so thin that oxygen and carbon dioxide can easily pass through.

The seriously wild scorpionfish is quite amazing – how long did it take you to spot this king of camouflage in the image?

Taking photos in an Aquarium can be tricky, especially when the fish are zooming around in their displays! Tomorrow, prominent photographer and videographer Stefan Hurter is running Through the Lens, a photography workshop for our Solemates, where he will show them the Aquarium through their camera lenses.

Stefan has worked for DeKat TV, the SABC and on a number of freelance projects, including documentaries and short films. He has since moved to Darling, where until recently he worked as photographer and media manager for Pieter-Dirk Uys (Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout).

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