Photo of the Week: The Hitchhiker

Mexichromis porterae nudibranch with Podocerus cristatus amphipod hitchhiker

The surge in the shallow Point Loma Kelp was annoyingly strong this past weekend.

Naturally, there were also thousands of tiny nudibranchs carpeting the rocky reef that I wanted to photograph. To quote one diver on the Marissa, "You couldn't touch a rock for fear that you might squish one." It was true. They were everywhere.

But back to the surge.

No sooner would I lock focus on one of these marvelous creatures than the surge would knock me four feet sideways. A thick stalk of kelp would fly into my frame, and I'd completely lose sight of my subject. It was immensely frustrating.

This is why I only have two photos of this tiny (~1/4") Mexichromis porterae nudibranch, and why neither of them is particularly good. I gave up.

But I wouldn't have if I'd had the ocular fortitude to spot the even tinier amphipod hitchhiking a ride on the nudibranch's back. I would have spent all damn day shooting those two little guys. However, I never even saw it until I was home, my gear was rinsed and drying, and I was on the computer, heavily cropping this shot.

This discovery has me seriously contemplating keeping a magnifying glass in my drysuit pocket. I even joked that I might invest in bifocal lenses for my mask.

I was only kind of joking.

(Settings: f/11 at 1/200 sec, ISO 160, with my EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens.)


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