Extremely mimetic fish, very difficult to identify, with only expert eyes able to recognize it since its livery exactly reflects the color of the environment in which it uses to live. We are talking about the Pipe Ghost Fish which is mainly camouflaged along the arms of the Crinoids, commonly called Sea Lilies or Bryozoans, mainly branches of sea fans. It is very common to observe male and female specimens together with the latter able to reach twice the size of the male. The Alimedha Pipe Ghost Fish, on the other hand, is a symbol of the Alimedha macro alga. In this case the advantage that the Alimedha Ghost Needle Fish derives from the macro alga is the perfect similitude and camouflage that allows the Fish to become practically invisible, a real “ghost”. These fishes are widespread in the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific, but has also been spotted in the Red Sea, Maldives (including the island of Maayafushi), Indonesia, southern Japan, the Marshall Islands, New Guinea, off the east coast of the Africa and also off the east coast of Australia.
The Diver and photographer of the NAKAI Resorts group Marco Carè gave us a magnificent shot of a specimen of Pipe Ghost Fish. But what is behind such a photo? Marco tells us step by step the genesis of having immortalized one of the most fascinating inhabitants of the Indian Ocean and especially of the island of Maayafushi.
“The joy and emotion for me to find such a rare and spectacular photographic subject has no equal. Every time such a wonderful creature happens to me in front of the lens, it is a challenge for me to render its magnificence through my images. Sometimes I spend even over an hour in the same spot underwater, if the logistical situation allows me. All to compose through the lights of the images that best make this extraordinary expression of Nature.
Although apparently the Pipe Ghost Fish does not move, macro shooting becomes somewhat complicated because it is a narrow and long subject. In addition, the depth of field with a macro lens is very limited. So I am forced to use mainly manual focus, because in these circumstances the autofocus would be easily deceived, perhaps focusing on the long tip of the mouth and blurring everything else.
It is also unthinkable to prepare pre-focus points, a technique used for example for bird photography, given that the composition of the image, the movement and collaboration of the Fish itself and the magnification ratio determined by the surrounding environment are absolutely unknown. I can even spend 30 minutes just to be able to fix the various flashes, in a very delicate way so as not to scare the Pipe Ghost Fish. Same thing to prevent the risk of the subject moving, forcing me to have to dismantle and recreate the “photographic set” again.
In the specific case of this image, I was immensely lucky: the livery of the Ornate Pipe Ghost Fish perfectly took on the color of the gorgonian branches with the open bryozoans where it takes refuge and camouflages, allowing me to show you the true meaning of “Phantom Fish”.
The Pipe Ghost Fish is only one of the many specimens of fish that inhabits the magical waters of the Indian Ocean and that can be seen near the islands of the NAKAI Group.