Skip's Underwater Image Gallery
Preservation Inlet, Fiordland 2007

Low light levels are something you get used to whilst diving in Fiordland. This year, things seemed to be particularly gloomy and on this dive at Trevaccoon Head, Long Sound, late in the afternoon, it was very, very dark.

Below 20 metres it got black and spooky. Not far from Trevaccoon Head, the bottom drops to over 300 metres but there was little temptation to drop down the sheer walls into the black stuff.

These are challenging condtions for wide angle photography because natural light usually provides an interesting and colourful backdrop. The starfish photo was taken in shallow water, about 10 metres deep, and with a single strobe. In order to get some background ambient light, I lowered my shutter speed to 1/2 sec. The yellowish background light rather than the more normal Fiordland green may indicate that the fresh water layer floating above the sea water was particularly heavily stained with tanin from the forest.

Pteroeides bollonsi

There seems to be at least three different species of sea pens. The commonly photographed orange coloured (Pteroeides bollonsi) species are typically found below about 20 metres and were encountered by us on dives in the narrows of Long Sound and elsewhere in Preservation Inlet.
Pteroeides bollonsi

Pteroeides bollonsi

These slender sea pens (Acanthoptilum sp.) appear to be distinctly different from the bulkier orange species.


Another variation on the sea pen theme is these "branched sea pens" (
Kophobelemnon sp.) which we found at 12 to 15 metres depth in the narrows at the mouth of Long Sound. They may be better described as a soft coral but they certainly have some similarity to the other sea pens.


Branched sea pen in brisk current.

I found these little slugs on our previous (2006) trip but hadn't managed to get any good photos of them. We did several dives in the narrows at the mouth of Long Sound and there, found these slugs in abundance on small hydroid trees in 8 to 12 metres of water.

I am unaware of any specific name for them but they would appear to be a Doto species. They may be a new record for Fiordland or New Zealand or the planet although this this would seem odd given that they are abundant, at least in places.

At about 6mm long, they're small and about the same size as the famous yellow Doto.

The little yellow Doto, probably by my favouite nudibranch. I've found them a number of times at the Poor Knights and previously in Fiordland but the shot at right is probably the best one I've got yet.

Although they're reasonably common, nobody else seems to bother taking photos of these beautiful wee things.

I was busy snapping the little yellow Dotos when Matthew pointed out this tiny chap.

I've found these Flabellina albomarginata slugs at the Poor Knights on many occasions but never in Fiordland and I suspect this may be a new record for the species in Fiordland.

Close inspection of this photo reveals something I was oblivious to when taking the pic.

A Jason mirabilis slug is positioned on the branch of a Solanderia hydroid on which they normally feed.

In the bottom right hand corner of the photo is a second species of nudibranch, the tiny yellow Doto.

This beautifully illustrates the difference in size between larger and smaller species of nudibranch. Jasons are commonly recognised by divers but the tiny slug species are very much overlooked.

Tiny unidentified nudibranch.

Rough skate (Raja nasuta).

Although they're a common species around the NZ coast, Fiordland is the only place I've ever seen them whilst diving.

Beautiful red coral (Errina novaezelandia) hand at Cavern Head, Preservation Inlet.

Shot in gloomy late afternoon light (grey and raining topside) with a 20mm lens and 1/2 second shutter speed.

Here's living proof that red coral doesn't take forever to grow.

Here it is, happily anchored to a discarded beer bottle.

Can't have been us, we drink from cans!

Strawberry sea cucumbers (Squamocnus brevidentis) can be found in shallow water at the entrance to Long Sound. At around 6 metres depth, some mixing of fresh and salt water creates an optical haze which can make it difficult to photograph these critters.

Sandpiper at Puysegur Landing

We enjoyed a beautiful, calm, sunny morning on our last full day of the trip. At the end of morning dive, from just under the flat calm surface, I looked up and could see a 180 degree panorama of sun lit trees, forest, mountains and blue sky.

In the afternoon we walked to the Puysegur Point light. The day remained sunny but it blew hard as it does so often in this place of notoriously wild weather.

Pete S, Shaun C, Matthew D, Ian S (L to R)




© 2007