Underwater Indonesia: Alor and Komodo, November 2011

Underwater footage from a 26-day Wetpixel underwater photography expedition to Alor and Komodo, Indonesia. Footage taken by me, with Canon EOS 7D, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom lens and Canon 100mm macro lens. Macro footage was lit with dual Light & Motion SOLA 1200 video lights. Additional footage captured with GoPro HERO cameras in modified Eye of Mine underwater 3D housings.

Commensal Periclimenaeus storchi shrimp inside tunicate

Commensal Periclimenaeus storchi shrimp inside tunicate, originally uploaded by echeng.

This bright green Periclimenaeus storchi shrimp lives inside a large Didemnum molle tunicate. I can't find it any of the critter ID books I own, so maybe someone out there can help me get an ID. We did a night dive in Alor, and many of the Didemnum molle tunicates contained critters living inside of them (I saw 2 different shrimps and an amphipod). All of the critters fled from lights, and getting this picture took over half an hour of careful planning and execution. Photo by Eric Cheng, taken with Canon 7D, 100mm macro lens, Nauticam underwater housing, Light & Motion Sola 600 focus light, 2 x Ikelite DS-125 strobes.

**Update:** this shrimp [has been identified](http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=43993) as a *Periclimenaeus storchi*. It isn't a true snapping shrimp.

More info on this shrimp: - -

Whale shark feeding in 3D

Here is a 3D video of a whale shark feeding at the surface during a huge whale shark aggregation in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I shot it on August 15, 2011, using a [GoPro 3D HERO System](http://gopro.com/3D) and an [Eye of Mine 3D flat lens housing](http://www.eyeofmine.com/gopro/order-gopro-hero.html#euwl3d) (a flat-lens solution is required for a GoPro to focus properly underwater). The video is best viewed at 720p in some sort of 3D mode.

If you own a 3D display at home, you can [download a higher-quality side-by-side version](https://www.yousendit.com/download/ZUd2K0d1ZDVBNkUwTVE9PQ) for local display (~99MB; link is good for 500 downloads; if it fails, please [let me know](/contact)). The downloadable video is still highly-compressed and doesn't quite convey the same 3D coolness that original version does, but it is still effective!

Wetpixel Isla Mujeres Expedition 2011, Days 1-3

Day 3 of the 3rd Wetpixel whale shark expedition in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: We've had 3 days of whale shark action so far, and each day has given us something different (but spectacular). The first day, a couple hundred whale sharks were spread out in a rather long stretch of the glassy-calm ocean. The water was relatively clear, considering that it was completely full of transparent tunny eggs from the mass-spawning event three nights earlier. Whale sharks gulped down eggs around us from 8am until our boat left (at 1:30pm). On the second day, we discovered a small patch of ocean with hundreds of tightly-packed whale sharks. They were so dense that they were forced to feed in layers, and we saw as many sharks ascending and descending as we did on the surface of the ocean (very rare). Our guides were totally excited, saying that the ocean was infestado with whale sharks. After thirty minutes of total whale-shark insanity, the sharks vanished in a coordinated descent into the depths—it was totally bizarre. One minute, we were surrounded by literally hundreds of sharks, and the next, there were only a few left on the surface. All of us, including the local guides, were totally dumbfounded by the strange behavior.

Today (day 3), we found the sharks 4 miles east and 2 miles south of where they were yesterday. It took a coordinated search effort by multiple boats to find them (which took 3.5 hours on the water), and we weren't in the water until 9:45am. The action was fantastic, with botellas almost literally everywhere we looked (a botella is a stationary whale shark that is vertical in the water, "gulping" water constantly to feed.

I've been shooting with both a Nauticam-housed Canon 7D with Tokina 10-17 fisheye zoom lens, and with a 3D GoPro HERO setup (with Eye of Mine 3D underwater GoPro housing). The 3D GoPro setup has been yielding some very interesting footage because I can get the camera in places where a big housing can never go (e.g. right in front of a whale shark that is cruising at speed). I have some interesting 3D footage that I'd love to present, but two failed upload attempts to YouTube are enough; I'll upload when I return to the States.

In the meantime, here's a 3D screen-grab from the video (red/cyan 3D glasses required):

3D whale shark gulp with GoPro 3D HERO camera / Eye of Mine 3D underwater housing

I also have cute / precious footage of Kieran Liu (the 5-year-old son of my friends Kenny and Lori) swimming madly after a whale shark (and managing to get really, really close). He is fearless!

**Update:** here are links to the videos:

- [Kieran Liu swims with a whale shark](/journal/2011/08/20/kieran-liu-age-5-swims-with-a-whale-shark/) - [3D whale shark feeding video](/journal/2011/08/20/whale-shark-feeding-in-3d/)

Sterling and whale shark

I'm getting excited about the upcoming [Wetpixel Whale Shark Aggregation trip](http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/expedition-whale-shark-aggregation-near-isla-mujeres-august-2011/)! This photo was taken during last year's aggregation and shows off the size difference between man and the biggest fish in the ocean.

Lush coral window (Yilliet, Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia)

Beautiful Dendronephthya soft corals ring a window in a boulder
During the 30-day trip to Indonesia I'm currently writing from, I've focused on taking still images and video with my insect eye setup (wide-angle macro) and a 3D underwater housing. I didn't even bring a traditional wide-angle dome port, which has made it a little frustrating to be diving in some of the healthiest reefs in the world. Luckily, Don Kehoe is here and lent me his wide-angle rig for 3 dives. I went down and banged out some colorful reef images -- felt like I was at home again. :)

Clownfish aerates eggs, Ambon, Indonesia

A false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) aerates and cleans her eggs next to her host anemone. Ambon, Indonesia.
Most seasoned underwater photographers are inexplicably drawn to photograph anemonefish even though they already have hundreds of pictures of them. It is extremely difficult to get an image of an anemonefish that someone else hasn't already captured. I took this shot with the INON insect-eye lens, which allowed me to capture the tiny fish and egg patch along with the anemone and background.

Coleman's shrimp pair on a fire urchin

Coleman's shrimp pair on a fire urchin, originally uploaded by echeng.

Coleman’s shrimp (Periclimenes colmani), a beautiful commensal shrimp that lives in pairs on fire urchins (Asthenosoma varium), are fairly common in Ambon. Fire urchins are typically found here at depths of 60-90 feet, and about one out of 20 will have at least one of three kinds of commensal crustacea living on them.

Using the INON insect eye lens (Underwater Micro Semi-Fisheye Relay Lens UFL-MR130 EFS60), I was able to capture two Coleman’s shrimp in a valley of fire urchin spines. Shots taken with traditional lenses cannot capture the colorful environment in which these shrimp live.

Pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis), Ambon, Indonesia

Pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis), Ambon, Indonesia, originally uploaded by echeng.

The most well-known dive site in Ambon is called Laha. Laha is known as “Twilight Zone” by the folks who first dove it – and for good reason: its mucky slope is packed full of the strange and outrageous. When we came here in April of 2009, we enjoyed the site so much that we spent 6 full days diving its mucky slope.

The new moon is approaching, and everywhere in Ambon, animals have aggregated to spawn. In a single large hole in the reef, we saw 4 large stonefish fidgeting about with their heads nearly touching. Many of the critters we are finding down there are stuffed full of eggs. During a midnight dive last night, I spotted a pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis) hiding under some sort of tube anemone. After a few minutes, the crab walked out slowly from under her protective umbrella and extended her brood pouch – a sure sign that she was about to release eggs. After 4 minutes of gentle egg aeration, she sprang into the water column without warning, releasing all of her eggs in a few seconds of spastic gyration. This photo was taken moments before she released her eggs.

Panda anemonefish eggs (Amphiprion polymus), Ambon, Indonesia

Panda anemonefish eggs (Amphiprion polymus), Ambon, Indonesia, originally uploaded by echeng.

The Wetpixel Ambon Night Safari is underway in full force; we are doing 3 night dives each evening and are enjoying being immersed in a soup of the bizarre creatures that inhabit the waters of Ambon, including discarded diapers, tampons and other desirable subjects. Unfortunately, the nasty stuff thrown into the bay is part of what creates such an interesting underwater habitat.

Most of our group is shooting with standard macro rigs, but there are 3 insect eye relay lenses here at the resort. Julian and I are both shooting INON lenses, and Tony has a custom job from Japan. They can be incredibly frustrating to use, but successful images often describe scenes that have never before been seen. The photo in this post is a screen grab from HD video taken with my Canon 7D and insect eye lens. The main subject, a mass of eggs from a panda anemonefish (Amphiprion polymus), is normally photographed using a super-macro setup. Using an insect eye lens, I was able to capture video of both the tiny eggs and attentive parent fish. Each egg houses a late-stage baby anemonefish, an in the video, you can see tiny hearts beating and eyes moving.


Old school lemon snaps!

Shark bite! Lemon shark at the surface (Negaprion brevirostris). Bahamas "lemon snap."
I found these old images while looking through my shark library yesterday. Ahh, the good ol' days...

Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) at the surface, Bahamas (the so-called "lemon snap")

Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) at the surface, Bahamas

Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) at the surface, Bahamas

Dead 80-ft blue whale and fetus (possible boat strike), Northern California

A 6-month old blue whale fetus lies in the rocks at Bean Hollow State Beach
Yesterday, I drove down to Bean Hollow State Beach (just south of Pescadero Beach at ([37.227072, -122.410529](http://goo.gl/maps/nRB7) to see the dead 80-foot blue whale that washed ashore last Tuesday. Scientists found at least three fractured vertebrae and hemorrhaging in the whale's belly, concluding that she may have died as a result of a strike from a large boat. A 6-month old fetus was ejected at some point during the last moments of the whale's life and was found not far from its 75-ton mother. The baby was pure white -- beautiful, really, and a stark contrast to the black rocks upon which it rested.

A couple dozen people were there at the beach to see the carcass of the planet's largest animal. The stench of rotting whale was tremendous and soaked into my clothing and equipment. My carbon fiber tripod held onto the smell for the longest, requiring over 12 hours before the smell was gone.

Officials say that they are going to allow the enormous carcass to decompose naturally, so it could be there for a few more months.

**Update:** My friend Dave has [posted scans of a beached blue whale](http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidmerrill/sets/72157625146855716/) in Northern California from around 30 years ago.

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Shark Bite GoPro! DiveFilm HD Podcast

My recent video featuring sharks biting a GoPro HD Hero camera in an [Eye of Mine underwater housing](http://eyeofmine.com/) has just been released on [DiveFilm HD](http://divefilmhd.com/). It is similar to one of the videos I posted earlier, but now has a "making of" section and a voice-over description of what is going on.

DiveFilm is an underwater video podcast put out by Mary Lynn Price and sponsored by [Wetpixel](http://wetpixel.com). We are very excited because it is currently (as of today) the #1 Sports & Recreation Podcast on iTunes! Since the iTunes ranking is based on downloads, I encourage you to [watch the video through iTunes](http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/divefilm-hd-video-hd/id214353624#) even if you streamed it from this post. Support DiveFilm! :)

Shark video: Monster chaos in the Bahamas (3D anaglyph)

3D anaglyph (red/cyan) glasses are required for this video.

Emma the tiger shark and a bunch of reef sharks and lemon sharks feed on a bit of fish bait (bones, mostly) in the Bahamas.

This is probably the most effective blue-water 3D video I've posted to date. It is a bit bright, but it's hard to do color correction for anaglyph 3D. I need to find a way to preview my work on proper 3D displays!

**UPDATE**: I just looked at this video, and the Vimeo upload's compression has made the 3D anaglyph effect much less pronounced. At 1080p pre-Vimeo compression, the 3D effect is tremendous. I need to upload a better version...