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Flying Octopuses - comments on the proliferation of these images


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#61 davichin

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 01:59 PM

I think there are some pictures where is more or less clear that it is swimming by itself like in this video at around 1´33´´ :



I have never seen one swimming and I will not even have the chance of seeing one in, at least, one year... :D
I have to confess that when I saw Michael Aw´s picture I thought it was manipulated but, who knows?.

If I ever see one naturally swimming and think it makes a good picture I will take it and, if I think is a good one, I would show it or anything. If someone thinks I manipulated it so be it but I won´t change my way of enjoying photography for whatever some people may think/say.
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#62 echeng

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 02:58 PM

Here's a perspective on the octo situation from a photo judge's point of view. If a questionable shot makes the finals of a competition, we contact the author and ask for detailed information about how the shot was taken. If the author says that the animal was not harassed, then we accept the shot on his/her word.

If we later obtain hard evidence that the author was lying, then his/her reputation will suffer down the line. Some folks have such bad reputations that judges are likely to just disqualify the shot outright. So if someone is known to lie and cheat in other areas of their lives, it is going to be hard for them to convince judges that they didn't harass an animal.

Note that the Wetpixel competition is anonymous until images have been placed into final rankings. It is at this point that image authors are contacted.
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#63 Drew

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 05:47 AM

If I ever photograph an octopus naturally like that, I sure wont publicize it. These discussions may help raise awareness, but I think this subject is now completely unusable professionally or even privately for fear of being burned at the stake. I may even decide not to even photograph this if it happens.

Another subject permanently lost...

Cor

Cor, perhaps you are being a bit over dramatic :D I think if you had a shot that showed a bit of ground, no one could burn you at the stake. The point is that mimics(for instance) do swim off the ground, maybe 2-3ft off. A lot of the criticism is when you have the mimic doing a defensive posture in mid water column or so far off the ground that it is not only not mimicking anything but freefalling down, just so the sunball is available etc. Same for the pacific octopus

I think there are some pictures where is more or less clear that it is swimming by itself like in this video at around 1´33´´ :



I have never seen one swimming and I will not even have the chance of seeing one in, at least, one year... :o
I have to confess that when I saw Michael Aw´s picture I thought it was manipulated but, who knows?.

If I ever see one naturally swimming and think it makes a good picture I will take it and, if I think is a good one, I would show it or anything. If someone thinks I manipulated it so be it but I won´t change my way of enjoying photography for whatever some people may think/say.

That's a good attitude and yes that lionfish mimicry was not induced (although it was reacting to the divers). As for the crab... let's just say it was 'introduced' to the mimic for the reaction. Makes for good TV. ;) The point of this whole thread isn't to vilify every photo there is of an octopus swimming in the water column. It's to raise awareness that some people have been known to ask guides to lift octopuses for shots or do it themselves. Hopefully this awareness allows people to make educated decisions about their photography. I think the majority of people would agree that tossing an octopus (unlike in a salad ;)) is not acceptable as part of a no harassment policy.
This is to let people know that the judges in competitions are savvy to this now and hopefully discourage that practice.

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#64 MikeVeitch

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:15 AM

mimics actually mimic jellyfish when in the far water column.. :D

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#65 AllisonFinch

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:27 AM

Do I think some "touching" of octos is OK? Of course! I have had octos crawl onto my arm to have a mutual carressing fest. It was entirely initiated by the octo.
Yes, I have seen mimics in the water column, but they, every one, were chased there by an attempt to escape detection. I have never just swum along and seen them swimming there. But, I have surely not studied mimics for months on end. Just reacted to the few I have been able to observe.
Many of the shots I have seen show very angry/stressed ( as seen by the colors) octos in defensive postures.

#66 Drew

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 12:46 PM

Allison et al
First of all, mimic octopuses have been observed to swim from the bottom to the surface (over 10m) and back down again, often in erratic behavior/changing colorations etc to put off predators. Roger Hanlon (whose study recently just came out) has observed this and so have I. However, he has spent A LOT of time in the water and has documented one such occasion. I've only seen it twice and only shot it once since I was out of film the first time! :D ;) I didn't even know it was a mimic back then ;)
Anyhow, let's not assume that everyone out there is harassing octopuses. The aim of the thread is to create awareness to a possible problem, not vilify anyone with a mid water shot of an octopus (unless it is exhibiting very unnatural behavior).

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#67 craig

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:06 PM

Many of the shots I have seen show very angry/stressed ( as seen by the colors) octos in defensive postures.

I believe it is presumptuous to assume that an octopus is "very angry/stressed" due to its color in an image. We don't even know what "very angry" is to an octopus. These creatures, like everything else underwater, live in the wild where they must be in survival mode at all times. Changing colors for them is not strictly used as an alarm to indicate diver harassment.
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#68 oceangrl

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 07:09 PM

Tim
We are not going to solve anything by discussing it but by discussion, some people may make that conscious decision not to do that when they are presented with that situation etc. It's sorta like discussing sex between teenagers and parents. Just cos you don't talk about it don't mean it don't happen :D

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Hello Drew,
We dived with Bastianos Lembeh Resort. We where very happy with our main guide, but the one in training was a bit of a nuisance. On one of the rest breaks he even through his empty snack packet in the water, so much for them maintaining the environment that brings them a income.

Happy diving!

#69 craig

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 08:14 PM

Hello Drew,
We dived with Bastianos Lembeh Resort. We where very happy with our main guide, but the one in training was a bit of a nuisance. On one of the rest breaks he even through his empty snack packet in the water, so much for them maintaining the environment that brings them a income.

Happy diving!

This is another example of divers thinking they know better about how the locals should live than the locals do. There's a reason Lembeh has a lot of floating trash but that doesn't mean they don't care about what they do.
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#70 Drew

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:40 PM

Craig, I think Lembeh would still be critter full without the rubbish the locals (and foreigners as in non-sulawesi people) throw into the sea. The rubbish just shows the wonderful adaptability of these creatures. I think it's quite universally accepted that plastic/toxic pollution in the sea is not a good thing anywhere in the world. I think it's also fair to say that many Indonesians are not as educated about these things nor brought up to care about these things and when they are, it shows like in the case of Ubud. I don't think it's terribly imperialistic to lament improper disposal of plastic, although in Sulawesi as in most parts of Indonesia, they DO NOT have a recycling facility at all. Perhaps instead of selling weapons, we should sell recycling plants on the cheap to the countries that need it like China and Indonesia.

Oceangrl, thanks for the info.

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#71 craig

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 06:40 AM

No doubt, Drew, but your point is a long way from proof that the locals don't care. Can either you or oceangrl honestly claim you know all the issues involved in the pollution there? I'm not advocating pollution, I'm objecting to the assignment of blame.

I would say that the pollution in Lembeh is part ignorance and part poverty. I'm certain the locals would prefer the problem not exist but they lack the time, resources, and understanding to deal with it. If oceangrl wants to believe it's due to thoughtless divemasters then she's free to do so, but it's far outside my personal experience with the divemasters there.

I routinely witness people in my own communities throwing garbage whereever it suits them. Yes, I consider them a-holes but they live in a society that knows better. In Lembeh, garbage is everywhere and the community stardards of behavior are different. Hanlon's razor applies in this case.

That said, if we all decided to pitch in and clean up Lembeh's trash problem overnight, it would not transform their pollution issue. Too many people there live in circumstances where they can't afford to care about it and won't give it a second thought. We can afford to care about environmental issues because we've been born into cultures with a high living standard and have never known differently. Yes, our opinion on the matter is healthier but it isn't entirely of to our credit. I often say, from personal experience, that wealthy people almost universally believe they are wealthy because they are better than ones who aren't. Before judging the locals in Lembeh, walk a mile in their shoes.
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#72 John Bantin

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 07:41 AM

I believe it is presumptuous to assume that an octopus is "very angry/stressed" due to its color in an image. We don't even know what "very angry" is to an octopus. These creatures, like everything else underwater, live in the wild where they must be in survival mode at all times. Changing colors for them is not strictly used as an alarm to indicate diver harassment.


These two didn't seem to give a damn whether I took pictures (10mm with two strobes) on not.
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#73 hoovermd

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 08:16 AM

...
I routinely witness people in my own communities throwing garbage whereever it suits them. Yes, I consider them a-holes but they live in a society that knows better.
...



I live in a SoCal beach community and I'm always surprised to see someone toss a cigarette butt into the gutter 1 block from the sand. Although not as surprised as they seem when I make them go pick it up :D
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#74 Graham Abbott

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 02:23 PM

How did this animal end up being mid water long enough to take a few decent photos?

I've seen shots like this a few times now, which I think have all been from Lembeh. I've seen a mimic do it when it was being chased by a photographer. I'm just wondering if the wonderpuss is the same, I've yet to see the wonderpuss go into the water column like this.

#75 DavidScubadiver

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 04:09 AM

I had a dive guide who used his tickle stick to pry out a small octopus so he could put it on his hand and pass it along. Made me so angry. I assume that the more they are harassed the less diver friendly they become. I would much prefer to chance upon an octopus who is curious about me, and perhaps never see one, than to see them regularly because they are pulled into view and thereby limit my chance of having a natural encounter. I don't make my living from photography though. And I don't eat seafood. Or other animals. So I recognize I'm a bit more sensitive than others may be.

When we die, lets just hope the cows are not guarding the pearly gates. Or in this case, the Octopi.
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#76 divegypsy

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:10 PM

If you want to get angry, look at the Macro division winner in the current issue of Scuba Diver. Here is a cuttlefish egg, with the tiny cuttlefish still in it. And the photographer is claiming that it drifted by him which he was at his deco stop aboard the Komodo Dancer. Cuttlefish deposit their eggs into tightly branching corals or similar places whenever possible. And if you do manage to detach one from the place where the female cuttlefish laid it, they sink, not float. And any cuttlefish egg that did happen to be floating along would be pounced upon by a hungry fish. This picture is clearly the result of either the photographer or someone else on the cruise ripping the egg from it was laid just for a picture. And dooming the unborn cuttlefish in the process.

I will write to Scuba Diver to tell them what I think about this. And it is hard to believe that with supposedly ocean-experienced people at the magazine that someone wasn't also aware that this is a "bio-fake" picture and ought to have been disqualified.

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#77 Scuba_SI

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:48 PM

Fred,

I haven't sen the image, but maybe he put it on vice set and held it so he could get the sun behind or varying shades of blue?

I believe 'someone' did that with Anemonefish eggs for an article in geographic a few years back.

Maybe after they got the shot they carefully put the egg back where it came from, or maybe it really did drift by and they were very lucky.

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#78 John Bantin

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 02:11 AM

Fred,
As a regular contributor to a magazine, I am always amazed at the breadth of ignorance or arrogant naivety of those who put magazines together.

Edited by John Bantin, 15 June 2008 - 02:12 AM.

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#79 divegypsy

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 07:07 AM

Hello again,

I should make it clear that I am primarily objecting to the dishonesty concerning the conditions under which the photographer claims the picture was taken.

I have moved a small rock with anemonefish eggs a bit farther away from the parents to better make 4x lifesize shots. And then replaced the eggs and embryonic fish back next to the anemone where the parents could continue to tend and protect them. But if submitting the picture to a magazine I tell them I have done this.

But as I said, every cuttlefish (and every cephalopod - cuttlefish, squid, bottletail squid and octopus) egg I have seen is normally attached to the substrate. And when I have detached an egg to get a better angle on the embryo inside for picture I set it on the coral or substrate I first found the egg attached to if possible. And then try to replace the egg in a safe place after taking the photos.

And in every case the cuttlefish egg I detached rested where I placed it for the picture. It did NOT float upward into the water column and drift with the current.

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#80 AllisonFinch

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 07:28 PM

:P Quoted by Divegypsy....
And when I have detached an egg to get a better angle on the embryo inside for picture I set it on the coral or substrate I first found the egg attached to if possible. And then try to replace the egg in a safe place after taking the photos.

I'm sorry, but removing ANY egg from the attachment point is wrong. Plenty of good shots of ceph eggs have been taken as they were found. I seriously doubt any egg "detached and then laid on the coral" has any chance of survival. The end does NOT justify the means, IMHO.

However, this arguement digresses from the original discussion of whether it is wrong to "place" octos into the water column to take pictures.