Butterflyfish & Giant Clam

04-May-2011 Back to Image Gallery

Butterflyfish & Giant Clam

This image is a world first and documents previously unknown behaviour of Klein’s Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) cleaning inside the organs of the Giant Tridacna Clam (Tridacna maxima). The fish is about to exit the clam via the siphon and even though the fish is making contact with the sensitive mantle and siphon the clam did not react to this invasion. This behaviour occurred repeatedly and by using a longer telephoto lens I was able to sit back about a meter away and capture this unique behaviour.

Photo Data: Location: Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Genre: Macro Telephoto. Photo Data: Nikon F5, Nikkor 105mm lens, Fuji Velvia film ISO 50, Dual Sea & Sea Strobes, Manual Exposure Mode. Exposure f11 @ 1/125 th second. Image by Kevin Deacon

Photo Hints: Longer telephoto macro lenses (105mm macro or 200mm macro) allow photography of shy subjects at a greater distance than 60mm macro lenses. The downside is narrower depth of field and a potential lack of sharpness if the water is not very clear. My rule is always try to capture macro subjects with 60mm macro and I only switch to a more telephoto lens if it’s absolutely necessary. Finally, photographers need to become marine naturalists and keen observers of marinelife behaviour. Only then will they notice abnormal or unique behaviour. Then the challenge is to capture it!

Interesting Facts: We always knew some species of wrasses cleaned fish but we now know Butterflyfish and some Angelfish are serious cleaners too. I have observed them cleaning Giant Sunfish, Turtles, Hammerhead sharks and now, Giant Clams. Giant clams can weigh up to 260 kilograms and possibly live some hundreds of years.

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