When going out rock pooling, I always take my iPhone and Canon Powershot (for underwater use) and take at least a couple of photos. Because of a lack of time, or because a single good photo is not enough for a new post, not everything ends up on the blog. Now I have some free time, I picked a couple of unused photos made this year that seem blog-worthy. First up, In realized only what I had found on the beach at St. Ives when leafing through the The Essential Guide to Beachcombing and the Strandline: a Seabeard! This hydroid, Nemertesia antennina, grows as stiff colonies protruding from a matted base and occasionally washes up on shore. It looks a bit plant-like; at the time I did not have the opportunity to have a closer look and just snapped a quick photo. Next a Lesser sandeel Ammodytes tobianus found at Gylly beach. I always see them when snorkeling or diving (see here) but this was a good opportunity to see one up close (I get excited when I spot a dead fish on the beach (see also here) and I am not afraid to admit it!). Following are two colour varieties of the Spiny starfish Marthasterias glacialis, a Common brittlestar Ophiothrix fragilis and a shot of an Aequorea forskalea (or maybe A. vitrina) jellyfish. Next the gastropod mollusc Chinaman’s hat Calyptraea chinensis. I went back to Mylor marina for some pontooning recently but not much was growing; the only thing that stood out was the luxuriant sponge growth (I am not sure of the species, perhaps Halichondria).And of course some seaweed pictures. By iPhone: Under tongue weed Hypoglossum hypoglossoides in Flushing, Black scour weed Ahnfeltia plicata in St. Agnes and a photo showing a variety of wracks all colonizing the same patch (Flushing): Serrated wrack Fucus serratus, Spiraled wrack Fucus spiralis, Bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosis and Egg wrack Ascophylum nodosum. Next some Canon Powershot underwater pics (see also this post and this one): a random rock pool picture of mostly decaying seaweed, a closeup of my favourite the Bushy rainbow wrack Cystoseira tamariscifolia and a shot of Wireweed Sargassum muticum that has completely taken over a pool. Finally an SLR photo of a rock pool at Gylly beach with large Cystoseira baccata plants (middle, Wireweed on the left).
A few weeks back I ordered a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, a tiny video camera that is especially popular amongst those that jump of cliffs etc. It comes with a housing that is waterproof up to 40 meters and has excellent video quality. The still images are not so great, you cannot focus or zoom and there is not even a display, although there is an app to control the GoPro using a phone which is very user friendly (the wi-fi connection however is lost as soon as you submerge the camera so you cannot use the phone display to set up underwater shots unfortunately). Of course I will try out the GoPro for diving, but I do not have very high hopes, as there probably will be loads of shaky footage under bad light conditions. Instead, I thought it would be cool to use the time-lapse function in rock pools. I was inspired by the following video:
(For two cool starfish time-lapse films here and here; the BBC ‘Life’ documentary of course is the cream of the crop.) I clipped the GoPro to the plastic baseplate it comes attached to in the packaging and strung that to a lead diving weight using a tie-wrap. The first time-lapse movies turned out OK-ish, the actual video is more impressive quality-wise. It is fun to see all the little gobies but it is obvious that they are not in focus when up close (and too small further away), so probably it is a good idea to bring some frozen artemia to lure them to the best spot. It is obvious that time-lapse works best for slow moving animals such as starfish; fish just flash by, although the nice thing is that you discover that there are many more fish around than you would think from just glancing over rock pools. Actually, it might be nice to try some slow-motion movies of fish using very high frame rates. The short clips I made are not good enough yet too post; the water was full of bits of seaweed, it was quite cloudy and the rock pools in general do not look as nice as they do in spring (lame excuses I know but see the picture below taken at Falmouth a couple of weeks back: it definitely does not look like this at the moment!). I also need to think about different subjects, as macrophotography is not really an option (although this lens might go some way).As a small consolation, I have added two videos from when I was rock pooling in Cameroon a couple of years back (this is a bit of an unusual holiday destination but highly recommended!). I made them using my now defunct Panasonic Lumix (DMC-F10) in very shallow water (<10 cm). Unfortunately I do not know what species of fish these are but they look like awesome aquarium fish (not too many people with a West-African marine biotope aquarium I reckon). The Lumix is not known for great macro but these vids are not bad (I fear this type of movie will not be an option for the GoPro…). I hope to make some cool GoPro videos soon and post them here!