Antilhas Holandesas : Photos

Descubram cada dias das Fotografias dos diferentes países da África e as Antilhas

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KLM Dutch Airlines Boeing B747-4 PH-BFL

SXM/TNCM -- 04/03/2012

St. Michiel, Curacao

Caribbean reef squid

Squid are curious and fascinating to watch. If one gets too interested in a diver, the partner can get angry/jealous. We can't read their color changes, but they definitely seem to be saying something to each other and to us with their instant transformations. Amazing that they can interact like they do - I don't know what level of intelligence is behind those eyes, but there is something definitely going on.

Going up

I was near the surface when I saw this turtle climbing up for a breadth of air. It is amazing that they can take a few gulps at the surface and then plunge down again for many minutes.

This location has barely any coral, but it is full of short sea grass just under the sand. That is what the turtles seem to love here.

Hawksbill having breakfast

Twenty years ago we only saw hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) on Bonaire. Now, hawksbills are only about 1 in 10 of the turtles we spot. (Hawksbills got their name due to their hawklike beak.) Green turtles are more common and they are listed as endangered. However, hawksbill turtles are listed as critically endangered -

The Salt Pier dive site is loaded with sponges, which is a favorite food of the hawksbill. This one was voraciously attacking the one orange sponge (and cupcoral) on the sea bed. He/she didn't mind that I was very close and watching. There was food to eat and while the diver might flash those annoying lights, that couldn't stop the feast.

All roads lead to ...

A spinyhead blenny in a hole in the brain coral. I could go for a more tightly cropped shot of the spinyhead, but I like the patterns created by the brain coral.

Spinyheads are tiny - think about half the size of your pinky finger nail. (The white spots in the fold of the coral are grains of sand.) They hang out in their holes and occasionally dart out just a bit to grab some food. They surely benefit from the hole in the coral structure. I wonder if the coral benefits from them in some way.

Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Sunset shot at Gotomeer. If I have the ID correct, then this bird is on Bonaire just for the winter. It breeds in northern Canada.

Turtle party!

Turtles are usually solitary. So it was a total treat to find these four all munching on the same patch of sea grass. In fact, there were four other turtles visible, just a bit too far away on another patch of sea grass to fit in the frame.

I was on the surface (kicking back to shore because everyone else had already ended the dive) when I encountered this party. One of the first compositional rules of underwater photography is to "shoot up". Well, this "shoot down" shot completely violates that rule - they were maybe 2 meters below me and I was worried that if I didn't take the shot right away they would scatter. Sure enough, as if they figured out that they don't really like hanging out together, they swam off right after I clicked. It also probably didn't help that I was a big object floating just above them.

Member of Nature’s Spirit
Good Stewards of Nature

The Tug

The Cavalier State was a tugboat that sank near shore in the early 1970s. Only the hull remains at this point. There was a huge lionfish hiding underneath it, probably too far for a diver to spear (smart lionfish).

Flamingo tongue

Flamingo tongues (Cyphoma gibbosum) are snails that feed on soft corals, like this gorgonian. It might seem like the bright pattern on the outside is part of the snail's shell, but it is actually part of a soft tissue that covers the shell.

Flamingo tongues seem to be a bit less common than they use to be, but maybe it is cyclical variation or my impression from a small sample of dives.

The patterns on this flamingo tongue intrigued me. The patterns vary from cluster to cluster, as if an artist painted them to her own whimsy.


The drop off to this reef at Playa Benge is at about 40' (12m). Most of the time we are focused on the nooks and crannies throughout the reef because that is where things hide. But all of that focusing on the small might cause you to miss the big. So it can be fun to just step/swim back and take in the "reefscape".

This reef has a nice mixture of soft and hard corals, with a hard boundary between a large sandy area and a steep fall off.

Turtle and friend

The turtle was munching on the red sea grass and the smooth trunkfish was hanging around hoping to snatch something that might be dislodged from the turtle's hubbub.

The sea grass here is usually covered in sand. The turtle uses her flippers to brush the sand away, which is incredibly cute, but also makes for hard conditions for photography due to lots of sand floating in the water.

This is the last post for 2018. Happy New Year to everyone! Best wishes for fun, rewarding, and inspiring photography in 2019!

Open wide

Spotted moray (Gymnothorax moringa).

As nasty as the teeth in the front of its mouth look, they are not what you need to worry about. Once the moray gets an initial hold of you with those front teeth, an "arm" located in the back of its throat reaches into the mouth to latch on to whatever is there so that it can drag it into the moray's throat. Seems like a great system for swallowing slippery fish. But bad news for your hand or feet.

The good news is that the moray is really all show and no bite. They are basically blind and rely mostly on smell. If you don't smell like a fish, they will leave you alone.

Going down

I love capturing turtles as they swim back down from their breadth of air. Unfortunately there is nothing in this image to give a sense of the size of the turtle. He (or she) is about two feet (60cm) wide from flipper to flipper. Not huge, but not a turtle baby either.

Perfect engineering

If you designed the ultimate underwater gliding machine, one that was capable of fast speeds with minimal effort, then I think you would design a ray. This eagle ray was effortlessly gliding along the sand as I frantically tried to keep up.

Me and my shadow

A golden fish and its dark shadow against the coral.

I am actually not sure how I got this shot. I used two strobes to illuminate both sides of the fish. The right hand strobe created the shadow. But why didn't the left hand strobe wash out the shadow? I presume it was partially blocked. If so, I probably couldn't construct this shot if I tried.

Green at home

Green morays are very large fish (can be as long as a diver) but they like to tuck themselves into tiny dens within the coral. To get this shot I had to blind fire because the opening was only just large enough to slide my camera rig into. (I tried the opening you see on the other side, but that was too long to get a shot on the moray.

A turtle's home

Turtles will take a nap in a little nook in the reef surrounded by corals. This green was resting in his/her little spot and not too interested in us.

Positioning my camera for the shot was not easy. Gorgonian fonds kept floating in front of the camera or strobes. This is the advantage of a fisheye lens - you can get really, really close to your subject and still get the entire subject in your frame.

Blue tang in motion

Playing with some rear curtain synch and slow shutter speed with a moving school of blue tang. Will continue to work on this technique but it seems to have potential.

Entrance to derelict house, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.

_DSC7652 Anx2 1400h Q90

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