Banggai Cardinalfish

12-Jun-2012 Back to Image Gallery

Banggai Cardinalfish

After a lifetime spent exploring coral seas photographing many familiar species of marine life I now find myself drawn to unique ocean locations in a quest to capture rare exotic species that might exist in only a few locations in the world and in some cases only one. Such is the case with the strikingly beautiful Banggai Cardinalfish which was only found in a small region of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Since the day I first saw this amazing fish in a Sydney aquarium I dreamed of the day I could encounter them underwater but for years dismissed it as a remote possibility. But dreams can become reality and such was the case when I led a photographic dive tour to Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi in 2008. I had discovered that this rare fish had migrated north to this area and although Lembeh has many unique species I was determined to finally encounter this one. Little could I have imagined that these fish had flourished in Lembeh and I had ample opportunities to create artistic images of the world’s most spectacular Cardinalfish.

Photo Data: Location: Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Genre: Macro. Photo Data: Nikon D200, Nikkor 60mm lens, Seacam Housing, Dual Seacam Strobes, and Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 100 Exposure f36 @ 1/125th sec. Imageby Kevin Deacon.

Photo Hints: With underwater action shots of fish the diver must have excellent buoyancy and manoeuvrability. Ideally you should be able to handle and trigger the camera system with one hand; your other hand will be needed for yourself. The camera system should be neutrally buoyant, just like you. I use buoyancy arms on my camera system to achieve this. I also use a divers probe on a retractor so I can maintain contact with the bottom without crashing into it disturbing the silt, destroying delicate corals or putting my hand on scorpionfish, urchins etc! Always select an aperture setting that will give you your best depth of field to ensure both fish are in focus. On a DSLR this is F22 to F36, on a compact camera this is F8.

Interesting Facts: Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, like other Cardinalfish are mouth brooders meaning they protect their eggs in their mouths until the babies hatch ensuring a high rate of survival. Other fishes simply disperse their eggs into the ocean which produces a higher range of distribution but proportionally lower rate of survival. These fish are also adept at survival as they shelter in and around long spined sea urchins and anemones somehow avoiding the stinging tentacles. I was amazed to discover these fish had also migrated to Northern Bali. However I use the term migration loosely as I believe this species has been introduced to both Lembeh strait and Bali by human intervention. A great development for underwater photographers but the consequences to the other fish in the ecosystem are yet to be determined?

Back to Image Gallery