Hi everybody and welcome back to another one of my underwater photography blogs with Sairee Cottage Diving. This time my picture is of a lionfish, a rare sighting on Koh Tao. After a recent dive trip to a secret muck diving spot however, we saw plenty of marine life uncommon on the regular Koh Tao dive sites. Muck diving is diving away from the normal reef spots, getting its name from the sediment that lies at the bottom, which is often mud. Because Scuba Diving is all about discovering and exploring new things, it’s good to get away from the normal dive sites. That is where plenty of species hide away from the bigger groups of divers. If you feel like a new challenge when scuba diving, maybe having dived the same sites too many times, just take your buddy and pick a compass heading and swim out in search of new photo subjects.
Tips when scuba diving on muck dive sites
It is important to remember that a lot of marine life living on the outskirts of the normal reefs have to protect themselves in different ways as they don’t have the safety of the reef to hide away. This lionfish for example is an ambush predator. It stays still until its prey is unaware of its presence and then speedily corners it with its large fins and swallows the prey whole. The large fins are used to corner prey but are primarily used as a deterrent to predators as they contain a rather strong neurotoxic venom. If they feel threatened they will point the spines of the fins towards any potential predator. To them divers seem very threatening, especially in America where they are an invasive species and are hunted. Photographers usually get closer than fun divers in order to snap the best photos, which can cause them to act defensively. Underwater photographers must watch out for two main reasons. The first is very annoying as they turn their back to any potential predator so as to point the toxic spines directly at them. This makes it very hard to get a good shot if they are constantly turning their back to you. The second and more important point is that they have been known (rarely) to suddenly dart backwards when feeling extremely threatened and sting photographers. This poison is not deadly to humans but from the accounts I have read you will wish you were dead with the pain. This is why it is very important to be a very steady scuba diver with perfect buoyancy skills.
It is extremely important to know any potential dangers when photographing marine life and how close you can safely get to your chosen subject. This is even more important if you have no idea what the creature is. If unsure keep your distance and perhaps move on to a different subject. Ask local dive guides or read local dive books to get better knowledge of the marine life you will be photographing when in a new area. Stay safe and happy snapping.
Ever had a close encounter with a dangerous marine species? Share your experience in the comments below.