Knock-knock: Who's there? A surprise from the past

by B. N. Sullivan

When I used to shoot film underwater, I made it a habit to mark a code number on the frame of each of the slides as soon as they had been developed.  The coding system I devised long ago consists of a number that corresponds to a particular entry in my dive logs -- that identifies the when and the where -- plus a letter code that indicates something about the subject.

Jerry finished scanning all of our old underwater photography slides awhile back, and as he went along, he labeled each with its original ID number and sorted the scanned images into folders according to the subject code on the slide.   I still have not finished reviewing all of the thousands of images, but every once in awhile I sit down in front of the computer and spend the next few hours sifting through those digital files.

So, there I sat earlier today, looking at images filed in the 'Sponges' folder, and I found this photo.  Looking first at the thumbnail image, it appeared to be a close-up photo of the surface of an orange sponge -- no more, no less.  Then I loaded it into the photo editor to have a closer look at the full-screen version.  Do you see what I saw?

There, peeking at the camera from an excurrent opening of the sponge is a little fish!  (I can't decide whether the fish looks surprised or merely annoyed.)

The next surprise for me came when I looked up the numerical code in my log books.  I was amazed to discover that I had taken this photo in 1990, during our first-ever dive trip to the Cayman Islands!  According to my log book notes, that roll of film was shot at a place called Angelfish Reef, Grand Cayman.

I have no idea what species of sponge that is, nor do I know the identity of the little fish. My best guess is that it is some kind of Blenny.  It's about the right size, and many fishes in that family like to hide out in small holes in the reef with only their heads visible to passers-by.  In any case, we're glad to give him a new home in our underwater menagerie here on The Right Blue.


  1. Beautiful memories and awesome photo. Maybe this little fish is a friend of SpongeBob.

  2. that little fish is so adorable! i didnt even realise it was a fish until you said so...!

  3. Great story. Something old becomes new again with hidden treasures. Could that be a Spinyhead Blenny?

  4. @ Antigoni - Ha ha, I love the idea of this fish as a friend of Spongebob. :)

    @ MissPegasus - It is cute, isn't it.

    @ Tim & Mary - You have a good eye. Yes, it could be a Spinyhead Blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa ), but this photo does not show enough of the details on the fish to be able to say for certain.


  5. I really love it when you take a closer look at one of your photographs and discover something you had missed the first time around.
    Cute little surprise looking at you.

  6. I really like the overall texture of the sponge, a really simple orange surface that is reminiscent of the desert even though it is under water. But then seeing the fish peeking out is a treat! I love the facial expression on some of these fish - a bit of "peek-a-boo" .

  7. A new discovery all these years later. I didn't see him at first either - what a great surprise!


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Bobbie & Jerry