Awhile back I mentioned that I have a 'thing' for photographing the faces and eyes of creatures in the sea. If you've been following along, you've already seen the conch shell's eyes, and the cross-eyed cone shell. Here are a couple more portraits of critters' eyes.
The creature in the first photo, at right, is a Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus). You can click on the photos for a larger view.
In addition to his eyes, take note of his amazing skin. That skin can change from a dark reddish color to the almost iridescent green of the specimen in this photo -- and almost every shade in between. This octopus (like many others) also can change the texture of its skin from smooth to rough in order to blend in with its surroundings.
Finding that octopus was a stroke of luck. The Caribbean Reef Octopus almost always hides in its lair during the day, so the only time a diver is likely to come across one is at night. Indeed, the individual in the photo above was encountered during a night dive at a place called Radar Reef on the north shore of Cayman Brac.
This next eyeball, on the left, belongs to a Blue-spotted Stingray (Taeniura lymma), one of the most easily recognizable of stingray species for obvious reasons. The first time you see one at close range, you can hardly believe your eyes. Those blue spots are quite dazzling.
Blue-spotted Stingrays are quite abundant in the Red Sea. That's where this one was photographed. It was resting on the sand at Ras Mohammed, near the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula. I approached it inch by inch, trying my best not to startle it so that I could get this macro shot of its eye.
This second photo of a Blue-spotted Stingray also was taken in the Red Sea. I'm including it here so that you can have a better idea of what the whole animal looks like.
What's missing from this photo, of course, is the stingray's tail. By the way, yes these animals do have a venomous stinger, but contrary to popular belief, it's not in the end of the tail, and they don't slash their tails around to try to sting prey -- or divers. The stinger -- actually a spine with a barb on the end -- is at the base of the tail.
They're quite shy and often swim away when a diver approaches. They look very pretty when they swim, because they propel themselves through the water by fluttering the edges of their body.
Blue-spotted Stingrays are one of the smaller species of stingray. To give you an idea of their size, the ones in the photos on this page were about one foot (30cm) in diameter.