The jellyfish are upon us again. Slow and photogenic, I had to go out yesterday in Falmouth Bay to try out two strobes with my fisheye lens for the first time. Unfortunately, the sea is like pea soup at the moment. The wide angle allows for a close focus (getting right up to the subject) so that minimises the problem of low viz, but there still is a problem with backscatter (especially when the strobes are not positioned the right way). Anyway, I had a lot of fun practicing. Although they did not come out as crisp as I hoped, cropping, decreasing highlights and increasing contrast and clarity, made them look acceptable. I encountered a few Compass Jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella, one with a small Gadoid fish in tow (above). A bit more common were the Crystal Jellies (in the Class Hydrozoa and so not ‘proper’ jellyfish as in the Class Scyphozoa) pictured below. They are in the Aequorea genus but I am not sure of the exact species. The Barrel- and Blue Jellyfish will soon follow, giving more opportunity to practice wide angle strobe photography.
Facebook/instagram and even news websites have been awash with Barrel jellyfish photos and videos the last week and so I had to get a piece of the action! I had seen these gentle giants in previous years but had not tried to take any photos in earnest. I snorkelled out from the beach in Falmouth and after 200 meters or so I sure enough found three or four (they occasionally came close to each other but there of course was zero interaction). Barrel jellyfish Rhizostoma pulmo can in rare cases have a bell 90 cm wide but these were smaller, maybe 90 cm in length. I dove to take shots from below again and again: good exercise! I learner to hold my breath so the shot would not be ruined by air bubbles. I tried some over-unders but the shore was far away and so ended up only being a sliver, tricky!I tried some downward shots as well, which were much more gloomy. I saw a lone Blue jellyfish and a couple of Compass Jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella. They are much smaller and have longer tentacles that unlike the Barrel jellyfish can sting (but not badly). Jellyfish are a great subject, beautiful and not rapidly swimming off! I hope to go back soon and try some more shots. (I will have to make sure to wipe the dome port occasionally as I had to spot-fix quite a bit).
A second, long snorkel session at Gylly Beach yesterday. Loads of Sand eels, no cuttlefish but there were a couple of beautiful Compass jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella around, with tentacles up to a meter long (first pic). Smaller and less visible was Aequorea forskalea or A. vitrina (second pic)*. A close relative of this species gave molecular biology ‘green fluorescent protein‘ (gfp).
This time we swam out a bit further, over the sandy bottom which seems quite lifeless compared to the rocky kelp forest. However, the fauna is very different here so it was definitely worth it. I found my first Sea potato Echinocardium cordatum (about to be eaten by a Spider crab). Near the buoys, at around nine meters depth or so there was (sparse) seagrass. Back on the beach I noticed that my lumix camera was flooded. I was somehow convinced that it could go up to ten meters deep but actually the sticker on it quite clearly stated that it was waterproof only up until three meters….Ah well, I will have to switch back to my Canon Powershot with waterproof case then.*= From the facebook group NE Atlantic Cnidaria: “A. forskalea : up to ca 120 marginal tentacles, usually fewer than the radial canals but ranging from half to twice as many; radial canals 60-80; max diameter ca 175mm” and for A. vitrina: “60-100 marginal tentacles, three or more times the number of radial canals; radial canals 60-100; max diameter ca 100-170mm”.