The Red Sea, Tiran, Egypt

Underwater photo of a bright white longlure frogfish on a coral reef in the Red Sea at Jackson Reef, Tiran, Egypt.
“Froggy”Click here to share or send a greeting with this image.

Touring Egypt 16: “Look for a small white sponge but with eyes, you know?” So said the divemaster from Camel Dive Club and Hotel. We had just had the predive briefing as our boat approached Jackson Reef, a dive site on one of the Tiran islands in the Red Sea. A white frogfish had been spotted on the reef and the crew was hopeful it would still be there.

That the fish might still be there was not actually an unreasonable hope, since frogfish are remarkably stationary. Even after having been found and photographed, they often remain in the same place for days. On the reef these fish look like a sponge, depending on their unremarkable appearance both for protection from predators and as their main hunting ploy. The fish sports a long lure appendage in front of the eyes and above the mouth (look at the spot where a nose might be). Waving the lure about in a twitching motion, it seeks to attract small fish who might want to eat what they might think is a small shrimp. When the prey gets close, the frogfish suddenly slurps a huge volume of water — hopefully including the small would-be predator, now become a frogfish meal.

All the divers on the boat were eager. We suited up quickly and jumped in as a group near the reef, dropping quickly down the reef wall while the boat moved off to tie up at the nearby fixed mooring point. We were lucky enough to be the first group at the reef. There was very little current at 60 feet, so we were able to gently fin along the reef without much effort. Among all the colorful Red Sea fish and corals, the divemaster soon pointed to a bright white “sponge” perched incongruously atop a coral stalk: our frogfish was found, exactly where it had been a few days before. The four-inch fish never moved as I floated closer with my large camera and strobes. The lure twitched rhythmically but aside from that it could have been … well, really a small sponge. I took the photo from maybe five or six inches away. To this day I am not completely sure I could not have actually touched it. Even now, looking at this photo, it is hard to distinguish his lower fins and tail, looking like anchors holding him fast to the coral.

(Canon Powershot G9 in Ikelite underwater case with twin Ikelite DS-125 strobes wired for TTL exposure, integrated lens at 9.9mm, ISO 80, f/5.6 at 1/60 sec.)