The Most Memorable Underwater Photographs

The insiders by Qing Lin

‘Peeping out of the tentacles of a magnificent sea anemone, off North Sulawesi, Indonesia, are clown anemone fish. They live within the confines of the anemone, immune to its stings, thanks in part to a thick covering of mucus. The social arrangement is such that, not only does their host protect them, but they feed on debris among the tentacles and may even snack on a tentacle. In return, they eat parasites, may drive off harmful fish and aerate the water with their fins; it could even be that they attract fish which the anemone stings and eats.’
Photograph: Qing Lin/Unforgettable Underwater Photograph/NHM

The startling warning by Darryl Torckler

‘Illuminated, this is the world’s most spectacular sea urchin, yet it remained undiscovered until 1965. That’s partly because the fiery sea urchin only inhabits deeper reefs off northern New Zealand and southern Australia. But it is also because it hides away in the day, and in deeper water, where red wavelengths are filtered out, it appears black or deep brown rather than fiery red. Its obvious defence, of course, is its needle-like spines.’
Photograph: Darryl Torckler/Unforgettable Underwater Photography/NHM

The beauty of gender-bending by Alexander Mustard

‘This is a moment of ecstasy, seconds before spawning, in the extraordinary mating ritual of shy hamlets. The male is calling out as he caresses the female, who is curved around him, head-down, about to extrude her eggs. He is fanning his pectoral fins to create a current, which will draw the eggs towards him as he releases his sperm. This coral-reef fish, possibly the most beautiful of the 13 Caribbean species of hamlets, spawns at dusk – a dangerous time, when the most predators are about.’
Photograph: Alexander Mustard/Unforgettable Underwater Photography/NHM

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