Hi everyone and welcome back to another one of my blogs for Sairee Cottage diving. This time I will be talking about jellyfish. Any of you who follow my Facebook or Instagram pages will have realised that jellyfish are my favourite subject for underwater photography. As soon as I started shooting them I immediately loved the new challenges. Lighting their translucent or transparent bodies is rewarding. As well as thinking about the usual strobe positioning and how the sunlight will effect the image. You also have to keep in mind the fact that unlike other subjects like macro life or bigger fish where the strobe light will bounce off them. The sunlight can be blocked by them, however now strobe lights go straight through them meaning strobes must be set higher. The sun light on the other hand can pass straight through the jellyfish from behind so exposure settings must be set lower on the camera. Apart from these differences from other underwater photography dives there is also the added risks of diving with certain species of jellyfish. In Koh Tao we don’t see jellyfish regularly all year round but we get a noticeable increase around November-December. Each year the jellyfish bloom gets bigger and bigger. The reasons we are seeing more and more each year is a combination of over-fishing, taking out the species that would normally eat the jellys, global warming and rising sea temperatures. On top of that we have increasing amounts of pollution we dump into the sea which create perfect conditions for them to bloom. Another reason is that with the added amount of man made structures (piers, drilling platforms, offshore wind turbines, boats and general rubbish) we are giving the jelly polyps an incredible amount of new suitable surfaces to cling to and grow on.
Jellyfish and a Whaleshark
In the surrounding waters of Koh Tao we have a few species of jellyfish that can be seen. Jellyfish don’t have brains and gently drift on ocean currents so they wont jump out and surprise attack you. As long as you keep an eye out for them and have a rash vest or wetsuit on then your pretty well protected. Some smaller species can bloom but are more of a stinging itch rather than any real danger. Remember if you don’t know what any kind of creature your looking at always keep your distance. If your buoyancy control is good and you want to get a photo always swim with care as they may have long tentacles that are hard to see. If you do get stung simply signal your buddy/dive guide and end the dive. Once on the boat do not remove tentacles with your hands but wash off with sea water and clean with vinegar and seek medical attention to be on the safe side. That being said they are still my favourite photography subject and are some of the most beautiful creatures out there but like most beautiful marine life it can also be dangerous.
Stay safe and happy diving.