I often find the most amazing things reveal themselves to the camera when no humans are around. Below are a few of the highlights from the remote video work I’ve been doing in collaboration with Dr. Alastair Harbourne of the University of Queensland. Most of these videos were shot with an array of GoPro cameras that we set up and left out in the lagoon of Heron Island, on Australia’s southern Great Barrier Reef, each day over the course of about three weeks in 2013. All GoPro video segments were tirelessly extracted by Dr. Osmar Luiz. I’ve also included a few other videos for fun.

Ocean creatures

Giant shovelnose rayGlaucostegus typus (0:19). These rays are pretty common in the Heron Island lagoon, but I still love seeing them.

Unidentified fish larvae (0:22). This is a brave little fellow…lots of hungry mouths out there would love to eat this guy. It’s a dangerous world when you’re only a few millimetres long.

Lemon shark, Negaprion acutidens (0:10). I love this video because it really captures the net effect of predation risk on the smaller reef fish…i.e., they disappear when something big comes near. The shark doesn’t eat any of these fish, but they all respond to its presence in a rather dramatic way. Think about how this kind of non-lethal interaction between predators and prey would be happening all the time on a reef with lots of predators, then consider that same reef where all the predators have been removed by fishing. Smaller, prey fish would have the run of the place, moving about and eating wherever they like… From this little thought exercise you can get an idea of how important predators are in reef ecosystems – even when they don’t kill anything.

Reef squid, Sepioteuthis lessoniana (?) (0:12). Aqua ballerinas.

Tiger sharkGaleocerdo cuvier (0:09). All I can say is that what little comfort I usually take from working in very shallow water evaporated when we came across this bit in the videos.

Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) corralling small fish (0:41). I shot this and the next video (on an iPhone) on the same field trip when we collected the remote videos above. This shark was working in tandem with another blacktip reef shark to make a meal of some of the small fish they’ve herded together. What I find really cool about this video is that it shows an example of a behaviourally-mediated indirect interaction in action…whereby the sharks essentially serve up the small fish on a platter to the anxiously awaiting seabirds by herding the little fish together and making them incredibly easy for the birds to catch. Note also the ‘zone of fear’ surrounding the shark as it passes through the shoal.

Sharks herding fish, part II (3:33). The movement of the fish as they evade the sharks in this segment is so elegant. Note again that no fish are killed, but simply the presence of the sharks has a major impact on the fish.

Ocean humans

Surfing Mums (1:16). This is a snippet of a local group I started for women like me who have small children and like to surf – the Surfing Mums of Avalon Beach, Australia. We trade off surfing and babysitting on the beach every week….hopefully in the process we’re raising the next generation of ocean-lovers! My friend and fellow surfing mum, Leonie Blignaut, shot it over a few days using a GoPro and a quadcopter (that she’d never used before). She is an amazing videographer.

All images copyrighted; images may be used for non-commercial educational purposes if attribution is provided. For other uses, please contact Elizabeth Madin.