Picturing biodiversity, part one

By Tyler Stiem

Crocodile flathead.

Crocodile flathead.

Threatened though it may be, Danajon Bank is home to many hundreds of fish species and many more corals, invertebrates, and other marine life. One of the purposes of the expedition is to capture the reef’s impressive but dwindling biodiversity before it’s too late. Food security is a pressing issue here, which means that, as a matter of survival, local fishers will target just about any sized fish. The animals are captured for food or for the international aquarium trade.

This week, photographers Michael Ready and Claudio Contreras Koob are putting in 16-hour days on the reef. They dive before dawn and come back to shore after nightfall in order to document everything from the otherworldly menace of the crocodile flathead to the regal beauty of the mandarin fish.

Here are a few of their early shots:

Winged pipefish.

Winged pipefish.

Mandarinfish

Mandarinfish

Nudibranche

Nudibranche

Copper-banded butterflyfish

Copper-banded butterflyfish