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Inside a Galapagos Bait Ball of Black Stripped Salema Fish - 360 degree underwater panorama by Jason Buchheim

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Jason Buchheim Jason Buchheim
Explore score
0.05 Gigapixels
Date added
Oct 13, 2009
Date taken
Oct 13, 2009

Nikon D200

environmental, experimental, travel, underwater

On the inside of a 'bait ball' of salema fish off Isabella Island, Galapagos. This is 9 photos taken with a 15mm lens, stiched with PtGui and a lot of photoshop work post processing to try to have each fish complete. This experience is being completely engulfed and surrounded on all sides and above by millions of fish. It darkens the sky! Looks pretty cool in Googleearth. Taken with a housed Nikon D200 with the new Underwater Gigapan Mount (not)! Actually taken with a monopod underwater, rotating the camera lens through its nodal point underwater is challenging and fun. Salema fish can actually be hallucinogenic to eat! Known as 'dream fish', the herbivorous fish have toxins in their flesh from the algae that they eat that when ingested by humans produce severe auditory and visual hallucinations. No, I did not try it. It was spooky enough inside the baitball.

Definition of 'Bait Ball': Schools of small fish cruise near the ocean's surface, feeding on plankton and other organic foodstuff. This schooling behavior evolved as a means of protection. If a shark or other predator approaches, the group parts in unison - making it difficult for the invader to target any individual. As a result, this type of attack often fails. Group hunting changes the odds. In a baitball feeding frenzy, a hunting party may consist of bottlenose dolphins, silky sharks, yellowfin tuna, rainbow runners, wahoo, marlin, jacks and even booby birds. They work in a cooperative effort to ensure a feast for all. A typical main course features teeming schools of juvenile jacks and chubs. When a lone predator, usually a shark or dolphin, discovers one of these floating smorgasbords and attacks, a number of events are set into action. Frightened fish elicit a unique odor and other sharks in the area rush to the scene. The fleeing fish then intensify their frantic swimming patterns, alerting even more nearby predators. Now, each member of the murderous team begins to execute its role. The silky sharks and bottlenose dolphins, which are usually mortal enemies, start to surround the school. Gradually, they increase speed and narrow their path, trapping the fish in a tight ball against the surface. Next tuna and marlin rip through the center of the ball, further disorientating the confused prey. Many of the injured bait fish quickly tire and are easily eaten. A full-blown baitball feeding frenzy leaves few survivors. As predators become satiated, new enlistees arrive to continue the slaughter. Against the odds, small groups of baitfish may escape. They will continue to cruise pelagic waters, eating as much as they can as quickly as they can. Once again, the rule of the ocean is clear and simple: get as big as you can before you get eaten.

Gigapan Comments (4)

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  1. Jason Buchheim

    Jason Buchheim (June 02, 2013, 08:55AM )

    This is best enjoyed in a 360 degree viewer (be inside the baitball!) here 3d360.net/34662 Will open in
a new tab or window

  2. Pascal Lee

    Pascal Lee (October 23, 2009, 05:47AM )

    Very nice.

  3. Stoney Vintson

    Stoney Vintson (October 14, 2009, 12:14PM )

    Odyssey described how he captured the panorama above. Thanks for the information about the 'bait ball'. It was very informative and allowed me to apreciate the pano more. So, is the monopod a sacrificial monopod? I have always wanted to take panoramas underwater and thought about making a crude panorama head or guide out of plastic. The monopod is a good idea. I have made arial 360 panos by estimating the positions and stitching with ptgui. Great job. I sure wouldn't enjoy retouching all off the fish at the seams ; )

  4. Tom Nelson

    Tom Nelson (October 13, 2009, 09:37PM )

    Is this a single image or a composite? How was it made?

The GigaPan EPIC Series, Purchase an GigaPan EPIC model and receive GigaPan Stitch complimentary

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