Here’s some eye candy for you today. If you haven’t yet stumbled upon Mark Strickland’s underwater photography portfolio – go there. Go there now. This post will still be right here waiting for you when you get back (warning, make sure you have a good amount of time – it’s mesmerizing).
Pretty mind-blowing stuff, right? A resident of California, Strickland has dabbled in careers as a lifeguard, boat captain, and scuba instructor, and has amassed a whopping 10,000 photos under his weight belt. He’s traveled all over the world to capture the wonders of the deep with stunning execution. His images allow you to get up close and personal with some of the most fantastical species and a handful of rarities, including this Caitlin’s Dottyback (Pictichromis caitlinae) that was recently added to my list of absolutely must have fish. Unfortunately, P. caitlinae is endemic to Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, where there isn’t any current collection occurring, so I could be waiting a while for this pretty little blonde. Mark boasts quite the collection of photographs from the scenes of the tropical Indo-Pacific, including Indonesia, India, Thailand and Myanmar. Massive whale sharks with hulking silhouettes, a curious Redspotted Blenny peering out from his burrow, a surly, brilliant yellow Weedy Scorpionfish, scowls for the camera in North Sulawisi, Indonesia, and a seemingly endless collection of flamboyantly-hued invertebrates.
Many of my favorites of his, of course, are his cephalopod captures – an ensemble of Pharaoh Cuttlefish congregated around Richelieu Rock, Thailand, and a Paper Nautilus caught naked without her shell. His photos have been featured in dozens of books and magazines worldwide, including National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, and Conde Nast Traveler. But there’s more behind the beautiful imagery that Strickland presents us with – he focuses on delicate habitats and threatened species who’s numbers are dwindling in hopes of getting our attention and raising awareness of marine conservation issues. Well, he has my attention, does he have yours?