Night Moves

Asian Diver (English) - - The Best of Voo -

What Ke­tut had found in the black­ness – and was ask­ing me if I wanted to pho­to­graph – was a ju­ve­nile

bob­tail squid

It’s dark. Out of the gloom, Ke­tut’s slate sud­denly ma­te­ri­alises in front of my face, weakly il­lu­mi­nated in the few rays of his dive light es­cap­ing be­tween his fin­gers. He’d writ­ten one ques­tion on the slate: “bob­tail?”

It was a clas­si­cally un­der­stated ques­tion. What Ke­tut had found in the black­ness – and was ask­ing me if I wanted to pho­to­graph – was a ju­ve­nile bob­tail squid, about a fifth of an inch long.

The mi­nus­cule squid was hunt­ing around a hy­droid, seem­ingly pick­ing off pixel-sized crus­taceans. It was flit­ting around on a jut­ting cor­ner of reef, and be­ing swirled ran­domly back and forth, up and down, by the ed­dies of a cur­rent that, in open wa­ter, was al­most too strong to swim against. Ke­tut find­ing it in the first place was im­pres­sive enough, but then he turned and led me back through the dark­ness and the cur­rent, and some­how re­lo­cated it. There fol­lowed 20 min­utes of that all-too-fa­mil­iar cramp­ing ex­er­tion un­der­wa­ter macro pho­tog­ra­phers ex­pe­ri­ence when the only thing not mov­ing is the reef it­self. Ke­tut si­dled in like a liv­ing bean­bag to help brace me against the cur­rent. With my legs and fins pump­ing, hands at­tempt­ing to hold the cam­era steady, neck cran­ing, and eyes squint­ing hard through the viewfinder in search of the squid, I even­tu­ally re­sorted to just squeez­ing off a frame ev­ery time some­thing blun­dered into fo­cus.

IM­AGE: Wade Hughes

ABOVE: Ke­tut Suardika, 9-year vet­eran dive guide at Waka­tobi Resort RIGHT: Ke­tut’s be­nighted, bob­bing and weav­ing minia­ture squid

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