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 don't just look in the blue. In the Alor archipelagoIn Indonesia, it is by looking at the bottom that we find treasures.
How about a little Muck-dive?
In the diver's jargon, we call it "muck-dive": literally, "muddy dive". In fact, muck-dive is a quiet dive, close to the bottom, which consists in scanning the sand, the coral debris and the seaweed clusters, in search of strange treasures: fish that pretend to be plants, slugs full of gills, transformist crabs...
It's an exciting game of patience, where you try to find a lot of weird bugs, often very good at blending in with the environment.
My first day of diving Alor is dedicated to "muck" sites. No hesitation as for the choice of the lens: macro, necessarily! To photograph the little beasts...
The two sites we explored that day were incredibly rich. I came back enchanted.
You will find all the curiosities you could hope for: leaf fish, ghost pipefish, orangutan crab, toad fish and of course a nice collection of nudibranchs, those little colourful underwater slugs, which fascinate sub...
Nothing new, for me - still the "spoiled-rotten" diver syndrome - but impossible to be blasé when there is so much to see under the surface.
And most importantly, it's the perfect opportunity to take control of my my 7D…
It's flashing in the waters of Alor!
Anyway, I am so happy to be underwater again. To be able to indulge without restraint in this strange hobby, which has become a real passion over the years: photographing fishes... I even have a friend who laughs at me nicely, because of that.
There's probably a sexier hobby. But I find it a lot more exciting than jogging, shopping or swimming. To each his own.
Immersed in the waters of Alor, I savor my happiness...
During a few minutes, I follow a small cuttlefish in hunting. Not really frightened by my presence, she lets me approach her. She will even show me her tongue, just when I flash!
A horned-boxed fish stares at me with its big round eyes, as if stunned. I'm flashing.
Then I try, somehow, to fit as close as possible a tiny pink crab, stuck on a branch of soft coral. Re-flash.
Ah, a toadfish... Let's go. The nice thing about this one is that it wants you to think it's a sponge. So it doesn't move.
It is hardly if it can still swim. Its fins have almost become legs, on which it remains well wedged, impassive, watching its prey.
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 pull his portrait endlessly. But I'm not the only one in the group to be involved in this strange hunt for little underwater monsters...
Gilles, the boss ofAlor DiversHe is also an underwater photographer. Matheus, a Slovenian also equipped with a 7D and whose last day of diving is today, is like me absorbed by the incredible fauna that populates the place. And Carole - my diving buddy during this stay in Alor - came with her compact camera.
We're flashing, we're flashing!!!!
Arnaud, one of our diving companions, will not enjoy it as much as we do. Sub photographer, too, he has the bad luck to drown his camera - a 7D, again - at the first immersion. Ouch. That's quiet.
(I promised not to post here the picture of the drowned man and his owner, which I took on the boat, on the way back from the dive, but I let you imagine the face Arnaud was making, when the rest of the group came back to the boat, still unaware of the drama...)
When we hear about what happened, we all sympathize, of course.
The cause of the drowning: a bad manipulation with the closing latches of his Nauticam chamber. The water entered as soon as the dive started. As soon as he realized it, he got back on the boat, but he couldn't save anything.
This is not the first time that I have witnessed this kind of incident and I hope never to experience the same catastrophe with my own chamber, a IkeliteI have had it for a little over two years now and I take great care of it. I've had it for a little over two years now and I take great care of it. I always prepare it the night before, without rushing, inspecting the joints twice instead of once. So far, no problems. Fingers crossed that it will last.
Well, I saved the best part of the treasure hunt for last...
A rhinopias otherwise nothing
I'm very happy to have met all the charming creatures I showed you above. But I'm even happier to have been able to photograph two other things...
First a magnificent yellow rhinopias - this strange fish whose mouth vaguely reminds the profile of a rhinoceros. Isn't it beautiful? Really, I love this fish!!!
I had already seen them in Lembeh, as well as in Pulau Weh - other famous places for the "muck-dive" - but with other colors, mauve (the color I prefer them) and red-orange... I give you some links below :
The meeting with a rhinopias is rare, and thus precious. The photographers of our small group, disciplined, follow one another in front of the beast to take its portrait. Cooperative, the rhinopias is not shy and takes the pose without seeming too disturbed by our flashes... It is really a nice fish !
The blue-ring octopus
The other "trick", which made these dives memorable, is the very sought-after, very rare and very dangerous blue-ringed octopus or blue ringed octopus.
It is so small that it could fit in the palm of your hand. But you don't want to touch it. As cute as he is, this mini octopus has a neurotoxic venom able to kill a human being.
I had only had the opportunity to admire this tiny octopus once before, I think it was in 2010, in Lembeh :
During this dive in Alor, we are three photographers - Gilles, Matheus and I - to turn around it, fascinated. It is the end of the dive and we continue to follow the tiny octopus, which drags us at shallow depth, down to one or two meters of water.
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 window of my box and his reaction is then to go straight to it !!!
Not the kind to gently take the pose like a toad fish or a rhinopias ...
Finally, the blue-ringed octopus took, for a brief moment, this strange posture in front of my lens: two tentacles placed on the bottom, the head turned towards me. One has almost the impression that he is standing on two small legs, arms crossed, as if to challenge me... Amazing!
I don't know why all these creatures fascinate me so much. Why the inventiveness of nature under water captivates me so much...