Dec 162013

Potbellied seahorses mating

About the site

Blairgowrie Marina is known as a fantastic site for macro diving. Prior to buying my 100mm macro lens, I dived under piers only to testing new gear before heading to the caves. I generally chose Mornington for easy access from the car. Which means despite the great reputation, my very first dive at Blairgowrie was back in October. I made the most of the situation by leaving my strobe hotshoe only partially plugged in…doh. I have a bunch of “natural light” macro shots from that dive, and after checking out the critters and colours I was keen to return with strobes working.

Post coitus pot bellied seahorses

The piers around Melbourne have also been a great place to log some hours on my rEvo over the last three months. Removing the boat from the equation means plenty of time in the carpark to put everything together perfectly. Staggering down the beach with rebreather, bailout and camera leads to some funny looks from the locals.

About the dive

I got in to find surprisingly good vis but didn’t spot too many critters. I practised lighting on a few of the hermit crabs hanging out on the bright orange sponges. I also spent a fair bit of time fiddling with my rEvodreams and HUD positioning so I could get myself close to the ground and the camera close to my face without banging into things. After following puffer fish around at the end of the pylons, I turned for the swim home without any particularly great shots in the bag.

Just as I was contemplating my critter-spotting failure, a pair of pot-bellied seahorses dropped off the pylon over my head and hit the sand in front of me. On the rEvo I could be confident my bubbles hadn’t knocked them off! With the engorged bellies you can see above and tails madly thrashing, they were hard to miss. They were also quite large and I was lucky to have good vis so I could back off with the 100mm lens and get the whole scene in.

About the shots

I haven’t witnessed this behaviour before and I was desperate to both capture it and watch it unfold. After a quick fiddle with settings and focus I backed off and got a couple of documentary shots for evidence. Neither seahorse was too happy about being on the sand so they righted themselves and headed up the pylon separately. I initially thought they were done (and was glad to have my documentary shots) before they snuck around the other side of the pylon and entwined their tails again. These guys were not staying still and I adjusted strobes and tried to keep up.

A minute or two later and they broke apart again before finding a good perch and settling in like nothing had happened. It was a very cool episode and I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time.

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