The Brothers Islands are in the middle of the Red Sea. These two specks of land are practically made of coral. That’s actually true: the Red Sea used to be higher, even at the time of the Roman Empire, when these two island were mostly submerged. Millennia of coral growth have brought us these two islands, and as you can see, they are still definitely in the realm of coral. Near the surface there’s the best light, and that’s where I spied this pair of Red Sea Raccoon Butterflyfish. What I like about this shot is the mix of natural and artificial light, and, of course, the reef! That’s what it all looks like over there, and it’s absolutely worth the travel time. A lot of people see this picture and think it’s an aquarium shot, because it almost looks fake. Funny how we got it all backwards: we expect what looks like perfection to be artificial, while the natural version is often disappointing. Well, it’s good to know that natural perfection still exists, although we may have to travel a long way to get there. But it’s still there.
It often happens, during dive trips, that the guide will give a briefing about something outstanding before a dive, and divers will listen and say, yeah, sure, I’ll check it out. Later, during the dive, most divers forget about what they heard because they are completely taken away with the immediacy of the dive, and then all of sudden, turn a corner, and WOW! that was outstanding – uh, right, *that’s* what the guide was talking about! Well, at Daedulus, in the Red Sea, there’s an anemone city that’s worth diving every day. There are tens and tens of anemone and each one of them is populated – teeming – with Clownfish, like this Amphiprion bicinctus. Some of them adults, most of them juveniles, hundreds of them. So if you want a nice picture of them, it’s just a matter of time, aim, wait, and you will be rewarded.
We have all seen cleaner wrasses and gobies doing their thing around larger fish, who diligently show up at cleaning stations just like SUVs at a car wash. But what I don’t often see is a cleaner fish taking a break inside the mouth of the fish being cleaned, like this Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) resting in the mouth of a Giant Moray (Gymnothorax javanicus). Now, to be honest, the wrasse was not resting all that comfortably, but that’s probably not because the moray, which was about 6 or 7 feet long, could have swallowed it in a few milliseconds. It was because of me, that unusual blob of stinky neoprene with light-emitting protuberances, hovering there, checking them out. I tried not to abuse their tolerance and left after a couple of shots. In the end, no picture is worth harassing the very creatures we have traveled around the world to admire. Sometimes we get lucky, and this time I got to take home this great shot that tells us a lot about different species figuring out a way to do business that’s beneficial for all. Now if only some business executive could learn from that.