Caribbean Nightlife Under the Waves: Photos

Scroll through the Caribbean Nightlife Under the Waves: Photos

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August 4, 2011 --

Opening tomorrow at the New York Aquarium and running through the rest of the month, photographs such as the ones here will be part of an exhibit showcasing fluorescent and other underwater images of Caribbean nightlife by Brandi E. Irwin of Liquid Film Photography. Using a Nikon D300s in an Ikelite waterproof housing with two or more strobes emitting near ultraviolet light, invisible to the human eye, she captures the light from the animals as they absorb the blue wavelength from the strobes and fluoresce or glow in different colors. Shown here is a fluorescing Bearded Fireworm.

Fluorescing in red and green the Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa) is formed from colonies of thumb-sized polyps growing together.

Nighttime finds the Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) at its most active. Usually brown and green, the white coloring shown here indicates this animal was not pleased by the paparazzi.

A queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) at night shows an array of color. According to the Marine Species Identification Portal, "Queen and Blue angelfish (H. bermudensis) occasionally interbreed, resulting in fish that share some distinctive markings from both species. These hybrids were once incorrectly described as a separate species: Townsend angelfish (Holacanthus townsendi)."

A pair of fluorescing tube anemones (Cerianthus) glow green under the UV lighting.

The orange ball corallimorph (Pseudocorynactis caribbeorum) is an uncommon site in the Caribbean, especially at night. Here Irwin manages to photograph the creature fluorescing without disturbing it.

The corallimorph (Pseudocorynactis caribbeorum) is quick, and retracts its tentacles at the slightest disturbance.

Orange cup coral (Tubastrea coccinea) is often found growing on cave ceilings, dock pilings, and buoys. The species is thought to have originated in the Indo-Pacific region and introduced to the Caribbean in the 1930s or early 1940s.

Puzzled? Several types of brain corals exist in the Caribbean, this images shows what we think might be either a fluorescing boulder brain coral (Colpophyllia natans) or a symmetrical brain coral (Diploria strigosa). Feel free to tell us what you think it is in the comments section below.

As its name implies, the lettuce sea slug (Tridachia crispata), shown here in natural light, has an appetite for salad. The vegetarian nudibranch looks a little leafy too.

A southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) visits the bow of the Hilma Hooker, a ship allowed to sink in 1984 off Bonaire.

A pair of longsnout seahorses (Hippocampus reidi) in natural light. The female is yellow and the male is red.