A coral banded shrimp at the West Flower Garden Bank.
This month we have departed from our traditional Featured Aquarium theme to bring you all some shots from “the big aquarium.” These photos were taken by James Wiseman using an underwater camera housing for the Fuji S2pro and dual underwater flashes. For those that are curious what this setup looks like, a photo can be found here. Bringing a camera underwater (especially a digital camera) is an excellent way to show others what can only be seen by divers – the underwater world. We hope that you enjoy these photos and are encouraged to someday try SCUBA diving yourself. There is no better way for a reef aquarist to learn about his or her charges.
These photos were taken at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary – two coral reefs that have formed atop two salt domes 110 miles off the Texas/Louisiana border in the Gulf of Mexico. These reefs are one of 13 marine protected areas that make up the National Marine Sanctuary System. Most people are familiar with the Florida Keys and Channel Islands sanctuaries – but not many know about this secret spot where the water gets up to 84 degrees F and oceanic species like mantas and whale sharks can be seen regularly during the summer. To learn more about the Flower Garden Banks, visit their website at http://flowergarden.noaa.gov.
A file clam or “flame scallop” rests in a crevice in the reef structure – amongst some beautiful purple sponge.
A small blenny at the West Flower Garden Bank – caught swimming out in the open.
Small Caribbean zooanthids live on a barrel sponge.
A baby queen triggerfish eyes my buddy and I warily.
This wonderful colony of Tubastraea sp. was actually photographed growing on an offshore oil platform.
The offshore platforms are a photographer’s “macro heaven.” This shot not only contains a coral , but also a small blenny.
Another colony of Tubastraea sp. lives amongst colorful sponges and hydrocorals.
A small grouper called a “rock hind” nestled amongst the Tubastraea sp.
Tesselated blennies live in barnacle shells on the offshore platforms.
Another shot of the tesselated blenny – this fish would make a wonderful aquarium fish.
An arrow crab forages for food among hydroids.
Moving on to East Flower Garden Bank – we interacted with a curious hawksbill turtle.
A rare fish in the Gulf – the marbled grouper!
Another shot of the marbled grouper (yawning) and my dive buddy.
Stetson Bank is a rock outcrop about 50 miles Northwest of the Flower Gardens. This photo taken there shows a juvenile “high hat.”
Small dwarf goldentail morays are plentiful at Stetson Bank. Look carefully – this shot also contains 2 arrow crabs and 2 blennies.
Another dwarf goldentail moray.