Editor’s Note: Shane Gross’ incredible behavior shot of a hunting shrimp nabbed a silver medal at the 2014 Our World Underwater photo and video competition, part of the Underwater Competition Series. It earned him a 10-day trip on the Febrina liveaboard in Papua New Guinea. Enter your images in this year’s Underwater Competition Series for the chance to win your share of $90,000 in prizes.
There are many blue holes on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. My favorite is not widely known and, as far as I know, doesn’t have a name. There is a 20-foot drop into the blue hole and you need to be a decent rock climber to get back out. Needless to say, getting scuba and camera gear in and out is a task in itself.
A stunning view of the blue hole in Eleuthera Island, Bahamas.
Once you are in the water, it is breathtaking. The water is crystal clear and you can easily see the shiny (and surprisingly colorful) bottom just 25 feet below. From there a cave extends in one direction and you can swim down to a depth of about 100 feet before the cave is too narrow to allow humans to pass. If we were smaller, we may be able to swim all the way to the ocean, for this blue hole rises and falls with the tides.
Lining much of the bottom of the blue hole are cave shrimp. There are thousands of the two-inch long red shrimp, and if you are patient you will see the odd shrimp swim up off the bottom—usually carrying something of value. My theory is that when one finds a piece of food it swims up to avoid competition on the bottom. I have seen them with cusk eels, leaves and things that fall into the blue hole, and, of course, crabs. I once even saw one with a praying mantis (still want to get that shot!).
Red shrimp line the bottom of a blue hole in the Bahamas.
A red shrimp swims around the cave in search of food.
I had to be respectful of the shrimp or she would drop her prized catch and swim for cover. I used two strobes to light the subjects, one slightly behind for a bit of back light and one above at a 45 degree angle to light the front. I knew how far away I had to be to fit everything in the frame with my 60mm Nikkor lens, so I tested my strobe power on my hand first and then waited for a shrimp with her prize to rise from the throngs below. I can’t wait to jump back in that blue hole and try out other shots.
The winning shot captured second place in the Our World Underwater 2014 Macro Traditional category. Settings: f/13, 1/200s, ISO 250, strobes at 3/4 power.
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