After 20 years, and several thousand dives this is my first time diving around the renowned Bunaken Marine Park in north Sulawesi, Indonesia. It was fantastic to be invited by Siladen Resort and Spa to come and explore the region and give a marine life workshop with daily lectures about the local creatures and their activities.

It’s always really interesting and exciting to explore a new area. Reefs are different in every place I dive. There are always unexpected animals to be found and some that are locally common, but that are rare elsewhere.

The Enigmatic Comet Fish: A Stunning Sight in the Ocean

Day one, dive one I came across a stunning little comet fish. I haven’t seen one of these in a few years, but they’re always a delight to see. The comet is well named. The pitch black body is covered in a constellation of white spots. The fish’s’ actual eye is cleverly lost amongst the spots, but it has a huge fake eye spot on the tail.

Clever Camouflage Tactics: The Impressive Biology of the Comet Fish

One of the most interesting aspects of this fish’s biology is that when startled, it faces its head into a hole and leaves its huge tail with its fake eye spot poking out. This display gives the impression that the small bodied comet is actually a large moray eel and isn’t to be messed with.

Fearless Encounters: Observing and Photographing the Bold Comet Fish

These fish are ordinarily rather skittish, but the comet we saw on our dive was fine with allowing me to make some images. This was a great first find and bodes well for the coming days of exploring this amazingly rich marine park.

Richard Smith, a British underwater photographer and writer,aspires to promote anappreciation for the ocean’s inhabitants and raise awareness of marine conservation issues through his images. A marine biologist by training, Richard’s pioneering research on the biology and conservation of pygmy seahorses, led to the first PhD on these enigmatic fishes. Over the past decade, Richard’s photographs and marine life focused features have appeared in a wide variety of publications around the world. Richard leads marine life expeditions where the aim is for participants to get more from their diving and photography by learning about the marine environment: