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Galapagos Bait Ball of Salema Fish by Jason Buchheim

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About This Gigapan

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Taken by
Jason Buchheim Jason Buchheim
Explore score
137
Size
0.05 Gigapixels
Views
37658
Date added
Oct 15, 2009
Date taken
Oct 15, 2009
Gear

Nikon D200

Categories
environmental, experimental, nature, travel, underwater
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Competitions
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Description

A huge school of Salema fish avoid predation by aggregating into a ball.

By Odyssey Expeditions Tropical Marine Biology Voyages program director Jason Buchheim. Please visit www.odysseyexpeditions.com Will open in a new tab or window for more information on our unique educational adventure voyages for teenagers and college students.

D200, 10 photos with 15mm lens for full 360.

This is best viewed in a Virtual Reality 360 degree viewer here: www.3dpan.org/34815 Will open in a new tab or window
A view from INSIDE the bait ball can be found here: gigapan.org/gigapans/34662/ or in Virtual Reality viewer here www.3dpan.org/34662 Will open in a new tab or window
Salema fish can actually be hallucinogenic to eat! Known as 'dream fish', the herbivorous fish have toxins in their flesh from the algae that they eat that when ingested by humans produce severe auditory and visual hallucinations. No, I did not try it. It was spooky enough inside the baitball.

Definition of 'Bait Ball': Schools of small fish cruise near the ocean's surface, feeding on plankton and other organic foodstuff. This schooling behavior evolved as a means of protection. If a shark or other predator approaches, the group parts in unison - making it difficult for the invader to target any individual. As a result, this type of attack often fails. Group hunting changes the odds. In a baitball feeding frenzy, a hunting party may consist of bottlenose dolphins, silky sharks, yellowfin tuna, rainbow runners, wahoo, marlin, jacks and even booby birds. They work in a cooperative effort to ensure a feast for all. A typical main course features teeming schools of juvenile jacks and chubs. When a lone predator, usually a shark or dolphin, discovers one of these floating smorgasbords and attacks, a number of events are set into action. Frightened fish elicit a unique odor and other sharks in the area rush to the scene. The fleeing fish then intensify their frantic swimming patterns, alerting even more nearby predators. Now, each member of the murderous team begins to execute its role. The silky sharks and bottlenose dolphins, which are usually mortal enemies, start to surround the school. Gradually, they increase speed and narrow their path, trapping the fish in a tight ball against the surface. Next tuna and marlin rip through the center of the ball, further disorientating the confused prey. Many of the injured bait fish quickly tire and are easily eaten. A full-blown baitball feeding frenzy leaves few survivors. As predators become satiated, new enlistees arrive to continue the slaughter. Against the odds, small groups of baitfish may escape. They will continue to cruise pelagic waters, eating as much as they can as quickly as they can. Once again, the rule of the ocean is clear and simple: get as big as you can before you get eaten.

Please visit www.3dpan.org Will open in a new tab or window to explore Three Dimensional Stereo panoramas!


Gigapan Comments (7)

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  1. Sui xuming

    Sui xuming (January 31, 2012, 08:47PM )

    like! how to take picture in move? have way?

  2. Paul Heckbert

    Paul Heckbert (November 14, 2010, 06:11AM )

    This gigapan is on display in the Gigapixel Imaging for Science Gallery Show, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, November 2010. See it in the gallery space at gigapan.org/gigapans/64744/ .

  3. Stoney Vintson

    Stoney Vintson (October 18, 2009, 10:07AM )

    The line was barely noticeable in Google Earth once it fully loaded. This panorama looks great in Google Earth. I bet if you send links of the photographs to the divemaster or company and allow them to use one or two of them for promotion of there diving services, that they might be more enthusiastic in the future. Though how many times are you going to go the same place : ) Thank you for explaining how you set up your shot, because I have been wanting to take some 360 panoramas. I don't think I will try it on any current dives though ; ) Have you thought of mounting a larger level on top of your camera housing? It would need to be a large level so that you can see it easily. I also thought of making a plastic disc with marks. The full frame cameras like the D700 and the Nikkor 10.5 mm shaved would only need 3,4 shots around. APG and Ptgui enblend help smooth out exposure differences if you try to shoot a nadir or zenith. The D700 does really well in low light. Look at the Smith Rock to see an example.

  4. Jason Buchheim

    Jason Buchheim (October 18, 2009, 07:05AM )

    This is a full 360, there should be no seam. Did you let GE fully load the tiles? Its not 180 degrees top to bottom, but it is a 360, the choice of the edges was arbitrary, I just wanted the fish in the middle of the flat photo. I use a monopod attached to my underwater housing, which is mounted vertically. I custom built an adapter to put the position of rotation under the nodal point of the lens. In use, I usually find a divit in the reef to put the foot of the monopod into- this helps me keep track of my position. Then as photographer, my job is to rotate the rig and keep it vertical (which can be quite challenging without all our normal land visual cues of vertical lines- and the current pushing you sideways). I have thought of just using a tripod, but the ground is rarely level so the set up time on the legs would be significant, and as its theoretically self supporting, it would need significant counter weighting to hold it down on the reef- not fun to carry around)- a tripod would diminish the spontaneity of grab shots. The monopod, with practice, seems much more portable and sufficient. I am not sure how to get the top and bottom shots with my outfit though. There is such color variation in the water with drastically more light coming from above- using manual set constant exposure would not work, and I don't know how well it would blend with variable exposure times. As it was, the divemasters found me to be a pain in the butt, always lagging behind the group, spinning in circles. I can't image how an even more complicated rig would help matters. They all already were making fun of me diving with a monopod- not normal diving attire. I seem to have been the first guest my divemaster of 20 years has met who brought such strange equipment and behavior underwater... Artificial lighting is a must for having colorful shots underwater- but I have some upcoming pans done without it. Keep a lookout!

  5. Stoney Vintson

    Stoney Vintson (October 17, 2009, 09:29PM )

    Wow, I really like the partial spherical view in Google Earth. It is projected like a 360 panorama and It only has a subtle seam. I could actually see much more in the Google Earth application viewer. Now, how in the heck did you stay in one position in a 1-2 knot current with the camera rig? Did you gently place some extra lead weights on the sand or reef? Mark your spot?

  6. Jason Buchheim

    Jason Buchheim (October 17, 2009, 08:12PM )

    Thank You! Yes, I use two underwater strobes to bring out the true colors underwater. It is a real drag (literally, the strobes are big and need to be far away from the lens on support arms to prevent backscatter from the light hitting particles in the water column. But most Galapagos dives are in a 1-2 knot current so the whole camera package gets quite burdensome). The water was actually not particularly clear, but I am using a wide angle lens and am really quite close to my subjects (the bait ball). Viewing it in Google Earth will give you a very very different perspective!

  7. Stoney Vintson

    Stoney Vintson (October 17, 2009, 06:02PM )

    Awesome panorama. I love the ball of fish and the color of the water. Did you use any supplemental lighting?

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