Marine Wonderworld: A Digant Desai Portfolio
Digant Desai took a sabbatical from nature photography to spend time with his kids and then returned to become a world – class marine photographer. In his words: “From the very first dive I was hooked and never looked back! It has now become more than a passion, maybe even an obsession”. He adds: “The first step to becoming an underwater photographer is to learn to scuba dive, then get really good at it, and then to understand how light loses different color spectrums at varying depths. Finally you must learn how to identify and know your subjects.” He goes on to say that diving brings him an overwhelming sense of peace, a complete cleansing of the physical, emotional and mental faculties – “Diving rejuvenates and energizes every cell of my body. Under – water photography transports me to a state of one – pointedness or ‘ekagrata’ that even several years of yoga practice have failed to achieve.
A scuba diver usually moves underwater by skin fins attached to the feet, but external propulsion can be provided. Here the diver is seen approaching a bright red coral in the Bangka Islands, Indonesia.
The blue spotted stingray Neotrygon kuhlii has a flat disc – like oval body about 17cm, in diameter. The blue spots on the dark green body and white underbelly provide countershading as effective camouflage.
These bait fishes, photographed in the Bunaken islands, Indonesia, are small but move in large shoals, feeding on zoo plankton around the coral reefs. Fish hunters follow these shoals as they attract larger fishes such as the shark and sword fish which prey upon them.
The mimic octopus in the waters off Lembeh, Indonesia, has the ability to change its skin color and texture in order to blend in with its surroundings such as algae-encrusted rock or coral. This is possible due to the presence of pigment sacs known as chromatophores.
The dominant male cuttlefish (photographed in Similans, Thailand) will approach the female, hold her with his tentacles, turn her head towards him, and then insert the sperm sacs with a specialized tentacle, in an opening near her mouth, smaller males may disguise themselves as females by hiding an arm, unique to the males and thus avoid confrontation with larger males.
These purple anthias, shot in Gorontalo, Indonesia, are referred to as the yellow – stripe anthias, since the females have a yellow stripe along the back. They can be seen in groups near coral reefs. They are picky eaters and only feed on specific zooplankton species.
Crinoids or sea lilies, photographed in Anilao, Philippines, are found from shallow water to depths of more than 5,000 m. They are free swimming organisms as juveniles, but as adults attach themselves to a substratum using stalks.
Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIII No. 4, August 2013.