Sunday, May 01, 2005

Redang... the Clown fish

Buddy descending near the House of the Clowns

Been taking underwater pictures for over two years now. Although my preferred brand is Nikon, which I use for pictures above water, the equipment that gets to travel with me in the underwater world is the Olympus C5050. It is by any measure, a very good camera.

The picture above shows a couple of anemone fish, or clown fish. False clown fish, to be more precise. The 'true' clown has a clear, rather black line encompassing the whites. I wonder why the distinction through the concepts, 'true' and 'false'.

I do not have an external flash unit. Several reasons why. Too bulky to carry. Too technical for me. And most important, that diver in the picture is my dive buddy, and also my Minister of Finance. And I have yet to CONvince her on why I really, really need this flash unit.

So, you can see the sometimes-distracting backscatter; those circular reflections of the internal flash unit by the water particles. What to do but to accept this compromise?

Clown fishes start off life as sexless creatures. Their host is the anemone, that tube-like stuff in the picture. This particular type of anemone is called the purple magnificent anemone. Normally there are several clown fishes inhabiting one anemone.

The anemone stings if you touch it. It is presumably poisonous but the clowns have adapted to the poison and the poisonous anemone helps to protect the clown from predators.

When a novice diver, I have tried to touch (I am sorry, I promise I won't do it again!) the anemone and it felt rather 'scrappy', quite a bit like touching fine sandpaper. Lucky I wasn't stung by it.

The female is supreme in the world of clown fishes, with the male literally being her right hand man. If and when the female dies, the male changes his sex into female and takes the lead. The largest among the sexless juveniles will become the male.