Macro at the Caverns
Welcome to Yap Caverns – our best wall diving, swim-throughs and macro shooting.
These photos were taken on one dive this afternoon when I hopped on a third-tank boat last-minute.
No matter how you do the Caverns, it’s usually good, and it generally gives you everything but the cleaning manta rays, from big to small.
I always drop down the wall and go deep first. At 30m there’s a coral head that is a cleaning station for sharks, turtles and big fish – it takes a bit of current to get the sharks to be active at it and today was just right.
Reef sharks in a vertical stall, mouth open holding a slow body swerve, is the show as the wrasses get in a clean.
I watched 4 grey reefs and a white-tip take turns cleaning with two massive barracuda circling in wait.
Had I been on wide angle, this would be a big fish post… but I wasn’t.
You know how it goes… roll in on macro and the big animal show is going off – tour the amphitheater on wide angle and a robust ghost pipe fish is in between a cleaning moray and an aggregation of reef shrimp.
Today was productive and it would have been regardless of the lens I chose.
Morays being cleaned is a common site, I had one in front of my lens and one behind my fin, both sticking way out of their rock holes with wrasse and shrimp doing their thing.
Mike pointed out this Dragon Wrasse, doing whatever Dragon Wrasse do. These guys don’t hold still and most of the time swim on one side and hardly look like a fish at all, not to mention they can be smaller than an inch.
I always check the anemones, there’s several good ones and they are usually home to a whole community of critters.
Porcelain crabs, ghost shrimp, anemone fish (adult and juveniles) are abound.
Your carpet anemone color choices are white with purple tips, blue with blue tips and green ones.
Sometimes these things are closed up with fish playing peek-a-boo offering different behavior opportunities to photograph, other times they are laying flat and covered with ghost shrimp.
Popcorn shrimp are found clinging to the tentacles, and reef shrimp can be found by looking underneath these things.
All over the walls and on sandy ledges are Moyer’s draggonettes, that look like Mandarinfish with a different color pattern.
Another solid find are Scorpion Leaf Fish – there’s one in almost every color here.
Today I came across 4 different leaf fish without trying – Mike gave me two and I found a couple while floating over the pinnacles.
Not all of them made a winning shot, one of them was smaller than my thumb, in a dark hole and facing away from me.
Once in a while you get a nice color fish that doesn’t absolutely match it’s background and you can bring home a nice leaf fish photo.
Other leaf fish shots from today look like reef wall with an eyeball in the center of the frame, their camouflage is impeccable.
Yap Caverns is a leaf-fish-rich dive.
You don’t have to wait around too much, the dive guides keep their rattle in their hand during the whole dive.
From 40 meters to your safety-stop there’s something to shoot – if you’re a fish person, this place can give you all the reasons to get into it.
Cleaning is going on everywhere making the behavioral photography strong if that’s your thing.
Thousands of Antheas and Flame Angels cover the walls dodging feeding Trevally.
Safety-stopping at the Caverns affords the opportunity to play around with these things until your computer is happy and you can surface for your hot tea, dry towel and fresh banana bread.
The theme of this post is “all from one tank” – over time Yap Caverns media makes for an impressive stack of shots, but coming back with something worth showing from a single tank is more of the visitor’s experience where there’s not seasons of photographs from the same site to choose from when sharing. For macro shooting, this is the site that offers the most subjects in one area.
I learned all of what I know about shooting fish and shooting macro at Manta Fest, our annual photography party where we learn from the top underwater professionals through workshops and one-on-0ne training at the Crow’s Nest bar. All levels of photogs get to participate in a photo contest with tens of thousands of dollars in prizes, everybody goes home with something! Learn more at – www.mantafest.com.