By Davide Lopresti
I have frequently seen in underwater photography contests winning images of fish with various cleaners or parasites, and was always impressed with them. When I saw them, I thought that a shot like that couldn’t be planned, you’d have to seize the opportunity when it presented itself.
And so it was, at a dive site 10 km from my house which I had dove many times, that I noticed in the first few minutes that there was something different -- many fish had parasites. This was strange because normally I do not see isopods in the Mediterranean Sea, so I thought that I might have my own opportunity to take a good parasite shot like the won I saw in the contests.
If it is strange to see isopods in the Mediterranean, and it is bizarre to see a Mediterranean pipefish (Syngnathus typle). In three years of diving the Mediterranean I have seen it only once. So you could imagine, it was quite a shock to see these two rare creatures on the same dive!
After 40 minutes at photograph the pipefish, trying to get as close as possible to it without hitting it with my port, I thought, "ok, I have 100 photos of this pipefish, enough for today." But while I was thinking this, the animal turns around, looks at me and opens his mouth, exposing the isopods. But I did not fire. I was caught unprepared!
I regained composure and I realized that a good opportunity was presenting itself. I made a few quick adjustments to my shutter speed, aperture and strobe power (I use all my equipment in manual mode) before the pipefish made a quick movement from left to right, opening its mouth again and giving me time to take three pictures before disappearing in the middle of the ocean. Reviewing the picture I immediately realized that the third photo came exactly as I had envisioned. There have only been a few times that I felt the sensation that I made a nice shot as I was taking it, and, well, this was one of those times.