All photographs are the original work of Nishan Perera, and cannot be used without the written consent of the photographer. Unauthorized use of images is a violation of intellectual property rights and may be subject to legal action.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In the line of duty

Cleaner wrasses perform an important function on reefs by removing parasites from larger fishes. Many types of fish seek out the services of cleaner wrasses and in some instances may lead to the establishment of "cleaning stations" where larger fish will queue up to be cleaned by several cleaner wrasses. Many of these cleaning stations are permanent and most fish will return to the same place to be cleaned. Cleaner wrasses advertise their availability by swimming in a quick jerking motion which is recognized by potential clients. In this symbiotic relationship of trust and mutual benefit the small wrasses will even enter the mouth and gill cavities of predatory fishes, just as this wrasse has done with a large honeycomb moray eel.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A macro paradise in Negombo

Yesterday we explored Deranagala and Tantirigala off Negombo. The first is a narrow ridge with prolific fish life. In addition to the usual reef dwellers there are schools of snappers, trevally, barracuda, large sweetlips, stingrays and moray eels . Many of the shallow reefs off Negombo have an abundance of small fish, shrimps and nudibranchs and provide great opportunities for macro photography. Photographing macro subjects underwater requires a a good eye, patience and a good understanding of fish behaviour, especially when working with small animals that are difficult to approach. And as with any type of photography a healthy dose of good luck always helps!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Magical Maldives

With nearly 1200 islands spread across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a true marine wonderland. Hard and soft corals, colourful reef fish and passing pelagics make diving in the Maldives a magical experience.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In search of the Battery Barge

After a one hour boat ride we scan the seabed with an echo sounder but cannot find anything except an empty expanse of sand. We have nothing but an obscure GPS point obtained from a fisherman. We drop anchor and after some time it snags on something. Its either the wreck we are looking for or a deep reef. Trusting our instincts we enter the water and descend in a heavy current. It takes nearly 8 minutes to reach the bottom 45 meters below the surface, but finally, in front of us is a small wreck sitting upright on a sandy floor. This is the Battery Barge. Known only to a few and the reason for our curiosity. Time is limited. We have only 5 minutes on the wreck as we have not planned for long decompression stops. The objective is to confirm the presence of the wreck and evaluate its potential for future photography and exploration. At this depth and fighting against the stiff current we feel the effect of nitrogen narcosis. Simple tasks such as focusing the camera and adjusting a strobe take more effort and concentration than usual. 

The wreck is broken into two parts. Its entire length covered in colourful soft coral and sea fans. Black coral bushes sway in the current as cardinalfish dart among the corals. A few small groupers are on the hunt and four large lionfish hover motionless in an attempt to ambush an unwary fish. All around, a school of snappers zig zag the wreck like rush hour traffic. Despite its small size the barge is an oasis of life in a vast sandy desert. If only we had a bit more time.............

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The sand people

Sandperches are small benthic fishes found on reefs and adjoining sandy areas. They are territorial fishes and feed on small invertebrates and fishes. Males often maintain a harem of several females. Sandperches are extremely common but are often overlooked due to their small size and cryptic behaviour. This one was photographed at Degalmeda reef off Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Reef at Dusk

Damselfish hover above a coral head in the fading evening light off Mabul Island in Malaysian Borneo. Dusk is an active time on the reef as diurnal and nocturnal animals end and begin their respective days, and predators lurk in hope of an ambush. On Mabul, is is also the time when the beautiful mandarinfish emerge from hiding to perform an elaborate courtship dance.