Slow and Steady
October 2010

by Natalie Novak

Ivan and I have spent a lot of time diving with Scott, an experienced diver with good skills, who likes to take his time and find the little things, in addition to the bigger things like turtles and groupers. When I dive with people who like to move slowly, I have a lot more time to spot the most amazing little creatures. All of our slow dives together have been around an hour long. Some of our dives start deep, around 80 feet, and then we work our way up the reef, and others are shallow, 40 or 50 feet; but all of our dives together have been over an hour long. We were on a shallow dive recently when I spotted something really unique and here is the tale:


We jumped into the blue; it was sunny and we were a little north of Yal Ku lagoonójust Ivan, Scott and I. We were sharing the boat with other divers, but they had moved off quickly with

their guide, and we were taking our time. About 30 feet out from the reef was a  little island of life, just a rock and some plants, but since we were moving slow, I decided to check it out, and I am so glad I did.






Can you find the animal in this picture? It's less than an inch long, and I am so happy I did!


I don't know how I saw it, but all of a sudden I found the coolest, cutest and smallest little pipefish I have ever seen. Its whole body was less than an inch long. And there he sat, with his little tail wrapped around a plant. Pipefish are close cousins of the seahorse and I am sure you can see the resemblance, but pipefish are very small. This is only the third pipefish I have found and the first of this kind!





See his little tail wrapped around a plant?











We put one of Ivan's clips in a picture to give some perspective. I am so happy I had one of the rental cameras with me from Blue Photo Akumal, so I could capture an image of this amazing little creature. If you would like to join my hunt for micro-animals, then come diving with Ivan and me.




               Ivan's clip next to pipefish















Dive Tip: I have had the best luck spotting micro-animals when I search the coral heads that sit like islands in the sand. There may be just as many shrimp and seahorses on dense pieces of reef, but against the blank canvas of the sand, I find it easier to focus on a small area and to search for the little animals which may be camouflaged in the plants and coral. Also, when photographing little guys, it helps if your camera is set to micro. Good luck!

Dive with Natalie & Ivan