Introducing the ‘How To’ series featuring helpful tips on mask clearing, equalizing, regulator recovery and more as you discover the underwater world. If you’ve just started the PADI Open Water Diver course, or simply haven’t been in the water for some time, we’ve got you covered with a full visual breakdown on how to perfect these skills so you feel the most comfortable in the water.
Megan Denny11 March, 2014
Frogfish are masters of disguise. Spot one during a dive and you will win the admiration of every diver in your group – especially photographers. Frogfish, a type of anglerfish, have a textured exterior that aids in their camouflage. While they do not have scales, their amazing ability to camouflage themselves serves as protection from predators. Frogfish vary in color and often have unique spines or bumps that change with their surroundings.
Here are some more interesting frogfish facts:
1. Unlike many animals that use camouflage as a defense from predators, frogfish mostly use their abilities to attract prey.
2. Frogfish have a modified dorsal fin that has a retractable lure resembling a shrimp, which is used to attract their prey. If their lure is eaten or damaged it can be regenerated.
3. Frogfish are carnivores. They eat fish, crustaceans and even other frogfish.
4. A frogfish’s mouth can expand to 12 times its resting size. This allows it to catch all sorts of prey.
5. Because frogfish lack a swim bladder, they use their modified pectoral fins to walk, or even gallop, across the seafloor (check out this great video of a frogfish in action).By Steve Childs (Flickr: Painted FrogFish yawning)
There are many fish in the sea that use camouflage, but the frogfish is a real treat to see. Frogfish can be found in tropical and subtropical oceans and seas off the coasts of Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. Next time you take a dive in one of these regions take a closer look at the reef.
Have any frogfish spotting tips? Let us know.
Cathy Evans20 October, 2017
Picture it. You’re on a dive taking in the beautiful marine life all around you when you feel something brush past your ankle. Immediately, an intense burning sensation travels up your leg, and you realize you’ve been stung by a jellyfish. Now what?
It depends on what kind of jellyfish stings you
There are over 2000 different types of jellyfish with some as large as adult humans and others smaller than a grain of salt. Found in every ocean, lakes, and even in some freshwater bodies of water, roughly 70 of the 2000 species can hurt humans.Moon Jellyfish
Not So Bad
Moon jellyfish, otherwise called “saucer jellies,” “moon jellies,” or “common sea jellies,” are one of the most common types of jellyfish. Their moonlike bell shape and short tentacles make them easy to spot. They can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, mostly near the coast in warmer waters.
Though mostly benign, these jellyfish sometimes sting. However, the sting is mild in nature and restricted to a precise area of contact.
The lion’s mane jellyfish, otherwise known as the “hair jelly,” is one of the largest known jellyfish growing up to 120 feet/37 meters long. This species prefers the cooler waters of the Arctic, Northern Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans but can also be found in the southwestern Baltic all the way to Australia and New Zealand.
Due to the insane amount of tentacles (up to 1200), these guys can be dangerous both in and out of the water. It is reported that up to 50 people sustained jellyfish stings from a lion’s mane that washed ashore on a US beach. Like most other jellyfish, their tentacles can still fire even after they have died.
The stings are painful, causing localized swelling and redness, but are rarely fatal.Box Jellyfish
Seek Help Immediately
The box jellyfish, otherwise known as the “marine stinger” or “sea wasp,” packs quite a punch, containing enough venom to kill 60 people. It is said that the box jellyfish is the deadliest creature in the ocean. “These dangerous jellyfish are common in the tropical Indo-Pacific, but some species of box jellies inhabit subtropical oceans, including the Atlantic and East Pacific. Species occur as far north as California, the Mediterranean and Japan and as far south as South Africa and New Zealand.”
That being said, if your dive ends with you encountering one of these, it does not mean your meeting will be fatal, but you should seek medical attention immediately.
The best course of treatment for all jellyfish stings is to rinse affected area with vinegar (avoid using freshwater), remove all visible tentacles, immerse the affected area in hot water, or use the localized application of a cold pack to alleviate pain. Look for signs of an allergic reaction and seek medical attention if necessary.
Treating jellyfish stings is just one of the many skills taught in the PADI Emergency Responder Course. Click here to learn more about EFR.
Alison Hush12 May, 2020
Diving with sharks is one the most amazing experiences. They are powerful, majestic and beautiful. But what about the sharks that we as divers can’t see lurking in the depths over 304 meters (1,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface? These sharks have unique biological traits that make them seem almost alien like. The harsh environmental pressures of the deep sea have lead to some amazing evolutionary adaptions. Here are five of the coolest sharks that live in the deep.
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
The Bluntnose Sixgill Shark has six long gill slits on each side of its broad head and has a blunt rounded snout – hence the name! Most of other sharks species only have five gills on each side, this is a characteristic they have in common with prehistoric sharks along with their translucent eyelids and the positioning of the dorsal fin closer to the tail. They can be found in temperate and tropical seas in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans between 91 meters (300 ft) and 2,000 meters (6,500 ft).
The Goblin Shark has a face that only a mother could love. It has a shovel-like snout, flabby body and a tail with a weakly developed lower lobe. The most peculiar feature of this shark is its protrusible mouth full of long, pointed teeth making it look like something straight out of the movie Alien. The Goblin Shark can be found near the sea floor in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans at about 1,200 meters (100 ft).
The Swell Shark gets its name by its defence mechanism which is to suck in large gulps of water making it swell to twice their size. This awesome deep sea dweller hangs at around 500 meters (1,640 ft) beneath the ocean’s surface in the subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean between central California and southern Mexico. There is not a lot of light at these depths so the swell shark has developed a unique way to catch their buddy’s eye. Their skin absorbs blue light and transforms it into a green bio-fluorescence light. This light can be detected by other swell sharks as they have a photo receptor in their eyes.
Even though the Cookiecutter shark is on the smaller scale, with males only getting to 42 cm (16.5 inches) and females up to 56 cm (22 inches), they sure have a nasty bite! This shark gets its name because of its feeding habits. They latch on to larger animals cutting a neat, round chunk out of them – just like a cookie cutter. That’s not the coolest feature of this guy though – they are also bio-luminescent, putting out a greenish glow to attract their prey. The cookie cutter shark inhabits warm, oceanic waters worldwide at about 1 km (3,280 ft) to 3.7 km (2.3 miles) deep. They usually rise to about 85 meters (279 ft) deep at night to hunt and very rarely come to the surface.
The frilled shark looks similar to an eel with their body shape nearly indistinguishable with the exception of the fins. They have a large mouth with 25 rows of 300 triangular shaped sharp teeth and can hold prey twice their length. They have been given the nickname ‘living fossil’ as they are the second oldest species of shark on this planet, tracing their evolutionary beginning 80 million years to the Cretaceous period. Frilled sharks can be found in oceans around the world between 118 metres (390 ft) to 1.2 kilometres (4,200 ft) below the surface.
There is still so much to learn about these creatures of the deep and other sharks alike. Through education and understanding sharks better, we are able to better protect these fish and enable them to roam the oceans just as they’ve been doing for the past 400 million years. If this has inspired you to find out more about shark protection then head over to Project AWARE’s website to see what you can do!
To inspire others and to save the oceans, scuba divers must connect life above the water to the gorgeous beauty below the waves. Underwater photography is the key to this connection. Without it, landlubbers would have no idea of the intricacy of coral reefs or the oddities found on a sandy bottom.
As divers, we realize from day 1 that the underwater world is worth seeing. We wouldn’t keep diving if we didn’t think it was. But the only way to capture that feeling is on a digital camera. With today’s invention of compact cameras which can reach 50 feet (15 meters) or more, this process is easier than ever. In addition, editing software, dive cases, strobes and filters mean our underwater images keep getting better and better. So why not add underwater photography to your scuba diving hobby?
Whether you’re already a pro or are just starting out, the ten following sites are our favorites for underwater snaps. Of course, depending on conditions and your luck, any site can make a wonderful photograph.
1 Pelagic Magic – Kona, Hawaii
Nerve wracking yet beautiful, black-water diving was first invented in Hawaii. It involves being tied to the bottom of the boat and then being suspended in pitch black water. Pelagic Magic is the most common site for such diving and is located in the deep channel offshore from Kona where sea depths reach thousands of feet. However, divers are tied off at 50 feet (15 meter). As your eyes adjust to the dark, you’ll begin to see strange bioluminescent creatures like colorful jellies rise to the surface where they feed at night. With the right set-up, close photos of these rarely seen animals are possible and lead to stunning results.
- Good For: Small Luminescent Creatures
- When to Go: April to October
2. Breakwater Cove – Monterey Bay, California
Located in California’s famous marine hotspot, Breakwater Cove is a shore dive featuring kelp forest and a little something for everyone. The gently sloping shoreline provides a comfortable entry and exit for divers of any level. Conditions can vary significantly, and some days visibility may be no further than the end of your hand. On other days, you might be able to see 60+ feet (20 meters). Breakwater Cove has marine subjects for all types of photographer. For macro fans, the site has a nice population of nudibranchs, star fish, sun stars, octopus and anemones. Larger subjects on offer include sea lions, seals and if you are lucky mola mola, but sadly, visibility can often hinder pelagic photography.
- Good For: Kelp Forest
- When to Go: June to November
3. Blue Water – Vava’u Islands, Tonga
Recently, Tonga’s Vava’u Islands have become the unofficial hotspot for swimming with humpback whales. A still relatively undiscovered destination, Tonga offers you the chance to get in crystal clear water with these gentle giants. The cetaceans come to the islands to mate and give birth. Tonga affords wonderful opportunities to capture a variety of behaviors seen in the Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whales. Participants in whale watching tours will often get to encounter male whales singing, mothers resting, mothers teaching breaching to their calves and also mating competition fighting between males. Please note that the tourism industry in Tonga has highly regulated these encounters, provided some of the best animal-friendly tours on the planet.
- Good For: Humpback Whales
- When to Go: July to October
4. Hammerhead Shark Dive – Bimini, Bahamas
Another site for pelagic lovers, Bimini has recently become known as hammerhead heaven. During the month of February, Great Hammerheads can be found to congregate just off the island of South Bimini in the northern Bahamas. Utilizing the area’s great visibility, you can expect an up-close encounter with these giant sharks, which can reach up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length. As an added bonus to your hammerhead snaps, the 20-foot (6-meter) deep dive site is also usually swimming with bull sharks and nurse sharks.
- Good For: Sharks
- When to Go: December to February
5. USS Kittiwake – West Bay, Cayman Islands
Sat in just 65 feet (20 meters) of water, the USS Kittiwake is a purpose sunk artificial reef ideal for wreck photographers. Thanks to the shallow depth, dives can last up to 60 minutes, allowing plenty of time to photograph every stunning angle of this once salvage and rescue vessel. The 251-foot (77-meter) wreck has open holes and hatches to add ambient light and allow access to all of her decks. With 100-foot (30-meter) visibility and calm conditions, the World War II navy ship has endless photo opportunities.
- Good For: Wreck Photography
- When to Go: December to May
6. Police Pier – Lembeh, Indonesia
Famous for its frogfish, pipefish and thorny seahorse populations, Police Pier is regarded as one of the top muck diving sites in Indonesia. While the sandy slope site may not be as beautiful as many others, the real prize is what can be found among the sponges and patches of rubble. Orange painted frogfish, harlequin shrimp, waspfish and Banggai cardinalfish are among some of the attractions, but every dive is likely to throw up something new. Police Pier is also a popular night dive site. With the chance of seeing the rare bobbit worm, many crabs, nudibranchs and shrimps, it really is a macro photographer’s dream.
- Good For: Macro Critters
- When to Go: October to March and July to August
7. Cenote Dos Ojos – Tulum, México
There are several cenotes (pronounced sen-o-tays) located throughout the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. This is because of the system of flooded freshwater caves found just below the surface. Of these, Cenote Dos Ojos (a.k.a. Cenote Two Eyes) is perfect for underwater photography. With two interconnected entrances, the light play from below the surface combined with crystal clear visibility produces professional quality photographs that are sure to make all your friends jealous. Don’t expect to be the only diver under water, but enjoy the addition of other divers within your photographs. Their size will only add to the unique impression of this underwater cave. At over 50 miles (80 kilometers) in length, there are several different dive paths available and therefore thousands of possible photographic opportunities for the keen underwater photographer.
- Good For: Cave Photography
- When to Go: May to September
8. Museo Atlantico – Lanzarote, Spain
Jason DeCaires has been busy since he designed MUSA off the coast of Cancun. His newest venture, and the first in Europe, is the Museo Atlantico in Lanzarote Spain. Of course, we had to feature one of his underwater sculpture parks on our list of the best underwater photography destinations. The statues found here are incredibly lifelike making great artistic pics or even funny selfies. This particular underwater museum is still quite new; it was only opened in March 2016. But as the years pass, coral will begin to grow on the statues. Distorting the body shapes of the models and making them even more beautiful. In addition to improving coral growth, the underwater parks also relieve pressure from over-dived areas nearby, making the whole underwater environment healthier. It’s a win-win for coral reefs and photographers!
- Good For: Sculpture Photography
- When to Go: June to October
9. E6 – Bligh Water, Fiji
E-6, a favorite dive among soft coral lovers, is located in the Bligh Waters of Fiji between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The area is ripe with nutrients, making a vibrant marine ecosystem and growing some of the best soft corals in the world. One side of the seamount is covered in sea fans, while a swim-through (called the Cathedral) can produce epic photos of your dive buddies. The light that filters through also creates ethereal images of massive gorgonians and every color of soft coral. Grab your wide angle lens and dive into Fiji, the Soft Coral Capital of the World.
- Good For: Soft Corals
- When to Go: April to December
10. Susan’s Reef – Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea
Frequented by liveaboards traveling the waters of Papua New Guinea, Susan’s Reef is one of the most popular dive sites in Kimbe Bay. And there’s good reason for it. It boasts opportunities for both macro photography and photos of huge schools of fish, but its true calling is wide angle photography. With a fisheye lens, you can capture the walls created by the site’s two seamounts as well as the ever present pink sea whips, anemones, sea fans, soft corals and even your dive buddy in the background. With shallow depths of between 50 and 70 feet (15 and 20 meters), the light is perfect for capturing the brilliant colors of PNG. Whether you shoot with a DSLR rig or a GoPro, Susan’s Reef shouldn’t be skipped!
- Good For: Wide Angle Photography
- When to Go: May to November