Rhinopias. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

The underwater treasures of Alor

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Underwater, we do not look only in the blue. In the archipelago of Alorin Indonesia, it is by scrutinizing the bottom that we find treasures.

A little muck-dive, what do you think?

In the jargon of divers, we call it "muck-dive": literally, "muddy dive". In fact of vase, it is of the calm diving, at the bottom of the bottom, which consists of scrutinizing the sand, the debris of coral and the masses of seaweeds, in search of funny treasures: fishes which pretend to to be plants, slugs full of gills, transforming crabs ...

It is a captivating game of patience, where one tries to find a whole lot of strange creatures, often very talented to be confused with the environment.

A flat fish, with its mouth crooked. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
A flat fish, with its mouth crooked. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)
Fish ghost. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Fish ghost. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)
Fish-sheet. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Fish-sheet. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)
Orangutan crab. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Orangutan crab. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)
Nudibranch. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Nudibranch. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)

My first day of diving Alor is devoted to "muck" sites. No hesitation as to the choice of the objective: macro, necessarily! To photograph small animals ...

The two sites we explore that day are incredibly rich. I go back enchanted.

Here you will find all the curiosities you expect: leaf fish, ghost fish, orangutan crab, toad fish and of course a nice collection of nudibranchs, these colorful underwater snails, which fascinate photographers underwater.

Nothing new, for me - again the syndrome of the diver "rotten-spoiled" - but impossible to play jaded when there is so much to see below the surface.

And above all, it's the perfect opportunity to take back my my 7D

Nudibranch. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Nudibranch. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)

It's flaming in the waters of Alor!

In short, I am too happy to be underwater again. To be able to devote myself without restraint to this strange marotte, which has become a real passion, over the years: photographing fish ... I even have a friend who laughs at me nicely, because of that.

There must be more sexy, like hobby. But hey, I find it madly more exhilarating than jogging, shopping or pool lengths. Each his own.

Immersed in the waters of Alor, I savor my happiness ...

For a few minutes, I am a small cuttlefish hunting. Not really frightened by my presence, she lets me approach. She will even show me her tongue, stack when I flash!

Cuttlefish. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Cuttlefish. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

A horned-boxed fish stares at me with its big round eyes, as if stunned. I'm flashing.

Horned-chest fish, aka "cow-fish". Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Horned-chest fish, aka "cow-fish". (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)

Then I try, somehow, to fit as close as possible a tiny pink crab, stuck on a branch of soft coral. Re-flash.

Coral crab. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Ah! A fish-toad ... Let's go. The good thing about him is that he wants you to believe he is a sponge. So he does not move.

He hardly knows how to swim. His fins have almost become paws, on which he remains stalled, unmoved, watching his prey.

Toadfish. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Toadfish. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.Coup de bol. This big fish-toad that I photograph from every angle deign suddenly open the mouth when I trigger, not at all impressed by my photographic devotion.

I draw him the portrait endlessly. But I'm not the only one of the team to devote myself to this funny hunt for the little monsters underwater ...

Gilles, the boss ofAlor Divers, does the picture under water, too. Matheus, a Slovenian also equipped with a 7D and it is the last day of diving, is like me absorbed by the incredible wildlife that people the place. And Carole - my "buddy" diving the time of this stay in Alor - has come with her compact.

We flaunt, we flash! ! !

Arnaud, one of our diving companions, will not benefit with the same happiness as us. Sub photographer, too, he has the misfortune to drown his camera - a 7D, again - at the first immersion. Ouch. It's calm.

(I promised not to post here the picture of the drowned man and his owner, whom I sneaked on the boat, after the dive, but I let you imagine the head that Arnaud was doing, when the rest the team has returned to the boat, still unaware of the tragedy ...)

When we learn what happened, we all sympathize, necessarily.

The cause of drowning: a bad handling with the closing latches of its Nauticam box. Water came in from the beginning of the dive. He went back up on the boat as soon as he realized it, but he could not save anything.

This is not the first time I have witnessed this kind of incident and I hope I never experience the same disaster with my own box, a Ikelite, deemed more fragile. I have had it for a little over two years now and I take great care of it. I always prepare it the night before, without haste, inspecting the joints twice rather than one. So far, no problem. I cross my fingers to make it last.

Well, I kept the best of the treasure hunt for the end ...

A rhinopias otherwise nothing

I am very happy to have crossed all the charming creatures that I showed you above. But I'm even happier to have been able to shoot two other things ...

Rhinopias. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.First a magnificent yellow rhinopias - this funny fish whose mouth reminiscent vaguely profile a rhinoceros. Is not it beautiful? Really, I love this fish! ! !

I had already seen in Lembeh, as well as Pulau Weh - other famous places for the "muck-dive" - but with other colors, mauve (the color that I prefer them) and red-orange ... I give you some links below:

Lembeh 2007
Lembeh 2010
Pulau Weh 2010

The encounter with a rhinopias is rare, and precious. The photographers of our small group, disciplined, succeed each other in front of the animal to draw the portrait. Cooperative, rhinopias is not shy and takes the pose without seeming too disturbed by our flashes that follow ... It's really a nice fish!

Rhinopias. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Rhinopias. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Rhinopias. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

The blue-ring octopus

The other "thing" that made these dives memorable is the much sought-after, very rare and very dangerous blue-ringed octopus blue ringed octopus.

He is so small that he could fit in the palm of his hand. But better to avoid touching it. Cute as it is, this mini octopus has a neurotoxic venom able to kill a human being.

I had until then had the opportunity to admire this tiny octopus only once, I think, it was in 2010, in Lembeh:

The Lembeh minimonstres

During this dive in Alor, we are three photographers - Gilles, Matheus and me - to turn around him, fascinated. This is the end of the dive and we continue to follow the tiny octopus, which takes us to shallow depth, to within a meter or two of water barely.

It does not hold in place, constantly changes color and shape, turning from dull brown to bright yellow, bringing out its electric blue rings.

Sometimes, he sees his reflection in the porthole of my box and his reaction is then to go straight on! ! !

Not the kind to gently take the pose like a toad fish or a rhinopias ...

Octopus with blue rings. Blue ringed octopus. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Octopus with blue rings. Blue ringed octopus. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Octopus with blue rings. Blue ringed octopus. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Octopus with blue rings. Blue ringed octopus. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

To finish, the octopus with blue rings took, for a brief moment, this strange posture in front of my objective: two tentacles placed on the bottom, the head turned towards me. It almost feels like he is standing on two small legs, arms crossed, as if to challenge me ... Amazing!

Octopus with blue rings. Blue ringed octopus. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

I do not know why all these creatures fascinate me so much. Why the inventiveness of underwater nature captivates me so much ...

The bottom line is that I continue to marvel!

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012