Muddy Foreshore

We have had some sunny spells but generally the weather has been disappointing lately, especially with regards to wind and waves. I did some snorkels with the fisheye lens to try to capture the seaweeds but the viz was such that I did not even bother to copy the images from my camera to my laptop….A crying shame as it means I have to wait a whole other year to capture the seaweeds in their full glory! (although even when most seaweed species are in decline, with good viz and some sun the pools can still look fantastic later in the season, see for example HERE or HERE). Anyhow, instead of taking my fisheye lens underwater, I tried it out on land instead, specifically on the muddy foreshore of my village Flushing. (A wide angle lens would have been better for this – no warped horizons etc – but I don’t have one.) I had a go at this a while back, before I really knew about softboxes to disperse flash light….what can I say, I am a slow learner… I recently bought a flash and a trigger so I can hold my flash in a softbox near subjects which is the way forward for these types of shots. Although not home to the most spectacular animals or backgrounds, it was fun playing around a bit. Top left: Montagu’s Breadcrumb Sponge (Hymeniacidon perlevis), top right: something that looks superficially like Elephant Hide Sponge (Pachymatisma johnstonia), although the colour and texture are off. (This specimen will be sampled by David Fenwick for a close look at the spicules (if it is a sponge and not a seasquirt!)

There are many oysters here too, mostly the invasive Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas) (pictured above), but also the native oyster (Ostrea edulis). I hoped to get a shot of an eel, but the ones we caught were small and a bit too active. We also found rocklings, shannies, rock gobies, a sea scorpion and interestingly a dragonet and a painted goby (I had not seen one of these before). Although there are quite a lot of interesting species to be found in the mud, I hope I’m able to go snorkeling in some clear blue water very soon!

Buoy Biodiversity

A while ago I played around with taking pics of the underside of a buoy, which was fun, and so i wanted to practice this some more. My mistake the first time (see here) was to use a fast shutterspeed (the buoy was bobbing about after all) which made the water look unnaturally dark. I tried again this weekend and it went a bit better, although I already know I can improve things. This time I thought it would be nice to put some names to the amazing fouling biodiversity (I did this before for some seaweed images, see here). Crustaceans (tube-dwelling Jassa), Sponges, Bryozoans, Seaweeds but especially a lot of Tunicates (seasquirts; both solitary and colonial species). David Fenwick (of AphotoMarine fame) had a quick look to help with some IDs; there is a more there but this was not meant to be exhaustive. I have underlined species that are invasive. Anyway, I am sure I will post more of these types of images: the buoys are always there and these organisms do not swim off when you try to take a photo!


A rare sunny interval on Saturday meant I grabbed my gear for one last snorkel this year before returning to The Netherlands for Christmas. The visibility seemed good the last couple of days (judged by peering down the quay) and there was no wind, but I was quickly disappointed when sticking my head underwater at Flushing beach (also had major brain freeze!). I headed to the nearest buoy to practice some close focus wide able shots with my two strobes (one just arrive back from Japan for repairs). This proved difficult but fun. Lots of adjusting positions; outward when they created back scatter and inwards when the middle of the photo was not lit up. As the buoy was bobbing about I used a fast shutterspeed which resulted in dark water but that too has its charms. Lots of diversity, including the solitary seasquirt Cione intestinalis, colonial seasquirts Botryllus schlosseri, Diplosoma listerianum, Didemnum (maculosum?), bryozoans Watersipora subatra and Bugula and/or Bugulina species, the purse sponge Sycon ciliatum as well as tufts of red seaweeds and green Ulva. There are an enormous amount of tiny critters such as worms and snails hidden between all these species as well. It will be a nice project for next year to take a better wide able pic and complement these with macro pics of individual species.