We must start when we see his flamboyant dress orange and blue patterns, because the second after, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
It's a rarity. A shy little fish that shows up only at the end of the day. It's on the house-reef of the resort Mimpi Indahat Bangka Island I found the Mandarin fish. It was during my stay in Sulawesi (Indonesia), in July 2010.
Flamboyant tangerine dress, electric blue stripes, waving flippers ... So early glimpse, so soon disappeared. The Mandarin fish is lively, elusive. Almost impossible to photograph.
He prefers to stay hidden under the protective interlacing of the coral, of course. Where the lens of my Canon Eos 7D has a hard time making the focus.
Especially under water the light declines even faster, as the night falls.
But Jemi, my Indonesian guide, promised me a Mandarin to finish the stay. And I, the chilly one who usually is reluctant to return to the water after dusk, so I agreed to a night dive!
I do not regret.
We spent an infinite time at shallow depth, hanging over the reef, motionless, on the lookout, eyes wide, lulled by a light surf.
At regular intervals, Jemi sweeps the pile of coral branches with the brush of his flashlight. He took care to alleviate the too bright light with a red plastic bag. He proceeds without a sudden gesture, taking dark pauses.
Our patience ends up paying. We see several.
Without too much effort, I try to draw them the portrait, to these small mandarin fish frightened by our presence.
Result: a lot of failures and a single picture vaguely showable. Which hardly translates the enchantment of this long waiting in weightlessness, of this game of patience in a subaqueous twilight atmosphere.
This is the second time, in my life as a diver, that I have the chance to meet mandarin fishes: there had been, in 2008, this other dive in the Philippines, on the reef of the island of Siquijor, which I had loved so much.