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Seas Of Life

Seas Of Life


Photo: Digant Desai.

Hundreds of glistening saltwater forage fish known as anchovies, or Ikanpuri by locals in Indonesia, come together in perfect synchrony against a piercing sunburst in a phenomenon known as a ‘bait ball’. These swirling masses can be so huge that they dwarf larger denizens such as the whales that predate on them. One of India’s most talented underwater photographers Digant Desai managed to create this wide angle marvel.

LOCATION: Papua, Indonesia

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 7D; Lens: Tokina 10-17 mm fisheye zoom Sutter speed: 1/250 sec.; Aperture: f/16; ISO- 100, Focal length: 10 mm


Photo: Digant Desai.

Getting a peek into otherwise hidden micro marine life unfolds surreal moments. This egg spawn of the Clark’s anemone fish, also known as yellowtail clownfish, neatly laid under an anemone, was chanced upon by the photographer. He stayed at a safe distance so as not to disturb the eggs or the parent. What you see is an image that is magnified 3.5 times its real size, with the eyes of the developing clownfish clearly visible.

LOCATION: Gorontalo, Indonesia

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 7D; Lens: Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L Macro IS USM; Shutter speed: 1/250 sec.; Aperture: f/32; ISO – 100; Focal Length: 100 mm.


Photo: Digant Desai.

A colourful emperor partner shrimp hitchhikes a ride on a sea cucumber. Thanks to its housekeeping skills, this shrimp is welcomed by other marine animals to share their burrows, holes or, as seen here, their bodies! The shrimp is known to wave its antennae to attract partners. A perfect example of symbiosis – the shrimp gets free rides, protection and food while the host is cleared of parasites and algae.

LOCATION: Lembeh, Indonesia

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 7D; Lens: Canon EFS 60mm f2.8 Macro USM; Shutter speed: 1/160 sec.; Aperture: f/25; ISO – 100; Focal length: 60 mm.


Photo: Digant Desai.

Within the grand depths of the South Komodo sea, the blinding riot of colours on these marine Crinoids is a sight to behold. Belonging to class Crinoidea, meaning ‘a lily form’ in Greek, they can be occasionally found in shallow waters, though they are usually seen beyond depths of 200 m. to as deep as 6,000 m.

LOCATION: Komodo, Indonesia

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 7D; Lens: Tokina 10-17 mm. fisheye zoom; Shutter speed: 1/80 sec.; Aperture: f/8; ISO – 100; Focal length: 17 mm.

Digant DesaiDigant Desai: “The world needs to know more about this stunning parallel world that is the ocean, and it is my mission to showcase the same through photographs that can help raise awareness and preserve this for future generations. I took my first plunge into underwater photography in 2006, and I have been hooked ever since.”


Photo: Baiju Patil.

The depth of the deep blue sea and the rich marine life surrounding the striking adult Koran angelfish in the foreground gives a glimpse of the underwater wildlife of the Indo-Pacific waters. Also known as the semicircle angelfish, it is found in sheltered coral reefs and feeds on algae and sponges.

LOCATION: Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India

EXIF: Camera: Nikon D7000; Shutter speed: 1/320 sec.; Aperture: f/8; ISO – 200; Focal length: 22 mm.


Photo: Baiju Patil.

With the perfect depth of field, Baiju Patil brings out the delicate beauty of these two little ternate damselfish against the pink-hued branching corals and green-blue waters. These fish are usually seen swimming in large schools, but are also commonly seen in pairs among corals.

LOCATION: Chidiya Tapu, Andaman Islands, India

EXIF: Camera: Nikon D7000; Shutter speed: 1/320 sec.; Aperture: f/14; ISO – 200; Focal length: 105 mm.

Baiju PatilBaiju Patil: “Underwater beholds a whole other world, and underwater photography a whole different challenge. Though it poses greater difficulty than photography on terra firma, I have the passion and will to explore marine wildlife, and each time I find that there are newer and more exciting adventures awaiting me in the deep.”


Photo: Sumer Verma.

Sumer Verma was greeted by this graceful hawksbill sea turtle while diving in Maldivian waters. The reptile’s curiosity got the better of it as it came to investigate the camera and the person holding it, thus offering the photographer a superb face-to-face shot of the critically endangered turtle.

LOCATION: Andaman Islands, India

EXIF: Camera: Nikon D200; Shutter speed: 1/125 sec.; Aperture: f/9; ISO – 200; Focal length: 12 mm.


Photo: Sumer Verma.

These two magnificent, pre-historic-looking giant moray eels, a marine fish species that are essentially night-time hunters, were photographed in a crevice late in the afternoon. Largest of the moray eels, these carnivores can grow up to three metres in length, and feed on fish and crustaceans.

LOCATION: Lakshadweep Islands, India

EXIF: Camera: Nikon D200; Shutter speed: 1/60 sec.; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO – 100; Focal length: 24 mm.


Photo: Sumer Verma.

Who says heaven is up in the skies? This ethereal image captures the sun’s rays bursting through blue waters, illuminating a jellyfish as it swims up to the surface. A closer look will also reveal a small fish swimming alongside.

LOCATION: Andaman Islands, India

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Shutter speed: 1/400 sec.; Aperture: f/22; ISO – 160; Focal length: 32 mm.

Sumer VermaSumer Verma: “Becoming an underwater photographer is like living a dream where one gets to swim around in the limitless blue. I only hope that my images can inspire people to realise what natural gifts we have here on Earth, and do what it takes to protect our planet from greed and ruin. It is truly a fine balance, and we are tipping the scale in a way which will not fare well for us as a species unless we can all make a change now.”


Photo: Ajit S.N.

It is humbling to spend time in the company of nature’s miracles. Ajit S. N. made the most of the four beautiful hours that he spent with this giant of the ocean – the manta ray. This planktivore (organism that consumes zooplankton or phytoplankton) was engrossed in feeding, oblivious to the human swimming beside it.

LOCATION: Maldives

EXIF: Camera: Canon 5D Mark II; Shutter speed: 1/125 sec.; Aperture: f/8; ISO – 100; Focal length: 15 mm.


Photo: Ajit S.N.

The massive sunken barge in the backdrop comes alive with incredible marine life swimming in and around it, such as this not-so-shy lion fish. But beware! It can inject potent venom through its needle-like dorsal fins, which is extremely painful, though rarely fatal, to humans.

LOCATION: Colombo, Sri Lanka

EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Shutter speed: 1/80 sec.; Aperture: f/8; ISO – 200; Focal length: 15 mm.

Ajit S.N.Ajit S.N.: ”The ocean has always held a deep mystery for me. My passion has taken me to different parts of the world - from diving in challenging sea conditions in the strong currents off Komodo Island to experiencing the sardine run in South Africa, swimming with great whites and humpback whales, to cave diving in the Philippines. Yet I have barely covered the tip of the iceberg in ocean exploration.”

First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 8, August 2015.


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