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One Great Shot: Are You Ready for This, Jelly?

During a nighttime dive, a veteran underwater photographer captured a tiny fish’s cunning effort to find a safe spot in a dark sea.

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by Michael Patrick O’Neill

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fish hiding in a jellyfish

Late one spring night in 2021, a nickel-sized driftfish, shielded by a thimble jellyfish, rode the Gulf Stream off Palm Beach, Florida. Both animals were part of a living soup of planktonic creatures simmering near the ocean’s surface to feed. The nightly journey from the depths to reach this feast is dangerous, so animals use a host of specialized tactics to avoid their predators, from camouflage to mimicry to speed.

It was late and, though I should have been in bed, I was out with like-minded insomniacs, scuba diving 11 kilometers offshore in complete darkness. With the help of blazing flashlights and trustworthy compasses, we were looking for larval fish and other minuscule subjects to photograph. Each time someone spotted something worth shooting, there was a flurry of excitement as flashes ripped like lightning bolts through the blackness.

This little driftfish immediately caught my eye with its cunning use of a gelatinous invertebrate for cover. I quickly snapped a photo of the fish, which looked a bit like a UFO pilot navigating the otherworldly depths. Tucked between the jellyfish’s stinging tentacles, the driftfish had a better chance of dodging predators.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Michael Patrick O’Neill “One Great Shot: Are You Ready for This, Jelly?,” Hakai Magazine, Jun 7, 2024, accessed June 15th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/one-great-shot-are-you-ready-for-this-jelly/.


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