Under the sea

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Nowhere on earth matches the abundance and combinations of colour found in the ocean.

A spectrum of creatures is captured in glorious light by a Mission Blue photographer. Words and photographs by Geo Cloete.

Bobtail squid. Image: Geo Cloete

Bobtail squid are highly skilled camouflage artists. Burrowing themselves in the sand is one technique they use. Doing so, they ‘glue’ some of the sand to themselves, which is still visible on this bobtail that has emerged to swim around in mid-water.

Orange-clubbed nudibranch Image: Geo-Cloete

Black nudibranch Image: Geo Cloete

Silver-tip or medallian nudibranch( the two species are impossible to tell apart with the naked eye, unless you see them laying eggs). Image: Geo Cloete

Elegant nudibranch Image: Geo Cloete

It might be hard to believe that these four very different-looking sea slugs (above) all belong to the same species, nudibranch (meaning ‘naked lung’). This is the animal species with the biggest inter-species variety of all.

Klipfish. Image: Geo-Cloete

Klipfish is the second-most diverse species found in South Africa’s coastal waters. Their breathtakingly beautiful eyes always grab my attention first.

Frilly-mouthed jellyfish Image: Geo Cloete

Swept inshore by strong upwelling currents, this frilly-mouthed jellyfish is a long way from home. Plankton, also swept inshore, changes the colour of the water from blue to green when it starts to bloom.

Pink hermit crab. Image: Geo Cloete

Shooting super-macro in surgey waters is challenging, but it reveals detail not seen with the naked eye – such as the complex eye design and gas-fl ame-blue hairs on the antennae of a pink hermit crab.

Crystal jellyfish. Image: Geo Cloete

Sunbeams perform a mesmerising dance as they enter the water and turn this transparent crystal jellyfish into a fibre-optic-like lantern.

About the photographer

His undying love for the sea is the inspirational force behind Geo Cloete’s work. Passionately and artistically crafted, his images create a greater awareness of the ocean and its marvellous creatures.
His work has been bought by collectors around the world, received numerous awards and Geo has been made a Mission Blue partner. Mission Blue is one of the biggest and most influential marine conservation organisations worldwide. Keen to share the beauty of the ocean with others, Geo also conducts organised diving trips.
geocloete.com, mission-blue.org

How he got the shots

Geo took these photos over four years along the Atlantic shore of Cape Town, in False Bay and the Knysna Lagoon. ‘Our topside references are of little value when we dive into the ocean. Everything behaves differently, from the sunlight to the animals.
It’s important that you familiarise yourself with this [Geo has clocked up more than 4 700 hours underwater]. Light is a curious ingredient of any photograph – learning to maximise the ambient light available and understanding how to make your strobe lights behave the way you want them to will open up endless creative possibilities.’