Tag Archives: fish

7 Whispered Meanings of Koi Art

There are few fish that are as atheistically beautiful as the koi fish.   The koi is a variety of carp that began its relationship with man in a dubious position. Originally they were simply bred for food to help supplement the almost completely rice diet of poor peasant farmers in the Far East.

However, this historical story cannot but help explain the sheer power of art and beauty over the human mind. Or in this case the stomach.   For some reason, one we may never completely understand, there was a mutation to a few of these fish that produced the incredible variety of colors found in some of the fish today.

People began to see this lowly food source as more than just something to eat. Because of their beauty they soon become ornamental and even started to have legends being told about them. These legends include how they are brave, purposed fish who through the sheer power of determination can swim upstream and even in some case up waterfalls.

Since koi fish represent such positive energy of purpose they are also given to a belief that their presence will increase other attributes.  They whisper energy that brings:

 

  1. Wealth and prosperity
  2. Success of goals
  3. Career advancement
  4. Relationships of long-lasting love.
  5. Symbol of strength
  6. Power of purpose
  7. Freedom from distraction
Koi Fish
Koi Fish

At first these eye-catching color are fish natural subjects for art. However, it was not for the brilliant colors that I captured their tranquil lives. I noticed that the scales of the koi would reflect light almost like a shiny metallic type of armor.  Since one of the finer aspects of black and white photography is about lighting a subject, this work remains a perfect opportunity for artistic enhancement.

The result is consists of swirls of creamy abstract whites on some fish and scaled elements of contrast on others. As the colors change into their respective shades of gray and creams, they gain a definite balance of minimalist quality. It’s just fish, but with their deep visual meanings of artistic display and centuries of eastern influence these simple koi take on a much more elegant and balanced display of nature’s beauty.

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Living Art: Color, Form, and Deadly Beauty.

Nestled in camouflage and coral at the bottom of a large piece of rock is a an example of the deadly art of the frogfish.  His portrait reminds me of the saying “A face that only a mother could love.”   What is so unusual about this fish is that is another example of how nature uses color and form to once again create an animal of deadly skill.

Waiting for dinner is one of the strangest looking fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of capturing in a picture.  This is a full-bodied size photograph of a cold-blooded killer.  Scientists refer to it as Fowlerichthys ocellatus,  or Antennarius ocellatus.   While we of more humbler origin simply refer to it as a frogfish or angler.

Waiting for DinnerAccording to frogfish.ch this fish can reach a size of up to 38 cm.   They ambush their prey and are quite obviously the last thing you’d want to get near if you were another fish.

What amazes me about this particular picture is the frogfish’s ability  to blend into the surrounding coral.  That nature would supply any animal with such a mastery in the art of camouflage to simultaneously hunt its prey and hide from other predators is astounding.

They just place themselves among the coral and use their fins as a foot to support their weight as they hide.  Their bodies sometimes have membranes and plates that breakup their form and hiding them among the rocks. The fins even have small nobs that act as small primitive fingers to grip the rock underneath them.

It is not unusual for them to be seen with algae for other forms of marine plants growing on them.  This allows the fish to blend in with his surroundings even more.  When you combine this with the colors and patterns they have, their prey doesn’t stand a chance.

When it comes to hunting they have two techniques that they use with devastating efficiency.  The first is to just sit motionless and let the prey come to them.  Once in range their huge mouth engulfs the prey and swallows it whole.

These fish are known for swallowing fish as big as they are!  They are even hostile to their own kind and will commit acts of cannibalism without thought.  They will tolerate other frogfish only during mating and even then for only so long.  Overtax your welcome with this fish and you end up on its menu.

The other form of hunting this fish is famous for is closely related to the first in that they sit on the coral and wait motionless.   Meanwhile,  they extend small fibers from the ends of a protrusion above their mouths to float in the current.   These fish will wiggle these fibers as a lure for other fish.

The poor unsuspecting prey thinks it will be scoring an easy meal and tries to strike the lure.  As they do so, they  realize their mistake to late and end up swallowed whole.

The formula in nature is simple.  Color+Form+Function= Deadly Beauty.

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Don’t Hold Back Your Seahorse

Holding back your seahorse is extremely unwise.   That is if you are afraid of attracting bad luck.  Bad luck?  Why yes!  Getting in the way of a seahorse swimming through the water or worse killing one is bad luck.

Giddy-upThe Hippocampus (Seahorse) as found in our photograph Giddy-Up, translates to “bent horse”.  To not place it on the list of the strange-looking fish is unthinkable.   This weird fish has no teeth, a tube for a mouth, a head that looks like a horse, and doesn’t use its tail to swim.

Knowing all of this it is easy to see why the ancient mariners used to believe that the seahorse was good luck.  Not only was the seahorse associated with the god of the sea Poseidon or Neptune, but also had another legendary function to sailors.

An old custom was when a person died on board a ship they performed a burial at sea.  To the ancient mariners this was a somewhat scary thought.  Not only the trauma of being dead was on their minds but also the reality that once the weighted body of the person was slid overboard no one really knew what happened to it.

Enter our friendly neighborhood seahorse!  Sailors believed that the seahorse would both protect and give the souls of dead sailors a ride into the afterlife.

Now seahorses were not just popular in Western Europe.  The ancient Chinese also believed that the seahorse was a form of sea dragon.   They were highly revered as being wise and powerful beings.

So, in the end it makes sense to display a seahorse for good luck.  Look!  It’s working already.  You’re in luck because our gallery has made it easy to get your own personal copy of this cool animal to protect you.  You can also get Giddy Up printed on a set of cards to share your good fortune with your friends.

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Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Lionfish Get No Love, Only A Stew.

Swimming for his royal portrait, this lionfish is a beautiful creature of the sea.  His majesty showed absolutely no concern for us.  We were merely curiously weird-looking creatures that were obviously too large to eat and not worthy of an alarm.

Unfortunately, his Highness needs to become concerned about us.  The lionfish has become a serious issue to conservationists and divers in the Atlantic.

But why the loss of love?    Lionfish look great in an aquarium.   In fact, the lionfish is often available at specialty aquarium shops both domestically and through online international purchase.

Depending on the variety and species these fabulous additions to any saltwater aquarium hobbyists collection will run you from $37-$110.

  • Invaders:   In the Atlantic and Caribbean the Lionfish is an invasive species.  This naturally means that they do not belong here. Their introduction to the fragile coral reefs off of Florida and the Bahamas occurred due to the intentional dumping of lionfish by frustrated fish owners.    These hobbyists either grew tired of their pets or the pet quickly outgrew his tank and ate his tank mates.  Once in the ecosystem, this fish quickly adapted and grew out of control.
  • Apex predator:   In the world of tropical reefs there are two predators that have no natural enemies.  The first is barracuda.  The second is the lionfish.The venomous spines that these beautiful fish display both to corral their prey and protect themselves make short work of any natural predator wanting to make a quick meal of them.   This appetite combined with a stomach that can expand over 30 times and a voracious appetite for at least 50 different species of animals on the reef causes severe trouble.  You have an eating machine that is unstoppable.
Lions Pride
Lunch?
  • Menu Please!   As it turns out, lionfish have a wonderful flavor slightly reminiscent of lobster.  Most people are willing to try this delicacy once they learn that lionfish are both invasive and destructive to the local ecosystem and the fish that has no natural predators.

Realistically, we weren’t a threat to them due to their status as a pet.  However, once discovered that they’re not only edible but very tasty sautéed with a touch of butter, all bets were off.

The harvesting of lionfish during derbies and the recent additions of how to guides for preparation of this fish led to some restaurants trying their hand at lionfish on the menu.  A small number of entrepreneurs have already begun ideas for farming these exotic fish for mass consumption.  Their future as a main course seems assured.

 

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For more information check out these links:

http://www.traditionalfisheries.com/cooklionfish.php

http://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook

http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/lionfish-romesco-stew/11514/

http://eattheinvaders.org/lionfish/

http://www.lionfishhunters.org/Recipes.html

http://www.deathtolionfish.org/facts.html

 

Silver At The Surface: The Silver Jenny

This silver fish is a Silver Jenny.  This particular Jenny was nervously swimming near the surface of the water trying to blend in as much as possible. It was obviously interested in the strange being pointing the camera at it but was unsure whether it should try to hide or run for safety.

I think it decided that the best course of action was to stay near the surface of the water for the best possible chance of blending in.   Indeed, in nature the silver coloring and the narrow shape of the body lets fish blend in with the wave reflected light at the surface or the natural sands at the edge of the surf.

Another use of the silver and very shiny reflective scales is the confusion it can cause a bigger fish when there is a large school of the smaller Jenny’s swimming by.  It is difficult to “lock on” to a specific fish to catch when you’re faced with a wall of moving silver flashing by at high speeds.

The Jenny is commonly referred in the fishing world as a mojarras or bait fish.  It’s not unusual for these fish to be misidentified due to all 28 species of this genus look so much alike.

I can easily sympathize with this as a background search of these fish led me to knowing no more than they are found the world over and they are often used as a living bait fish to catch other larger game.  I came away with the distinct impression that the only people who would be able to positively identify the exact species name of a particular fish would either be a professional fisherman or an ichthyologist.

I will, however, call this the distinct opportunity to accurately describe this portrait as “The one who got away.”  This is solely because I’ve managed to lose or cut loose more bait more times than I’ve ever been able to catch dinner.

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