Best Critters for Macro Photography in New Zealand


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One of many highlights of diving in New Zealand is the unimaginable marine biodiversity. Simply as New Zealand is residence to a number of the largest marine species you’ll discover in our oceans, it’s additionally house to an equally spectacular array of critters and macro marine species which can hold macro underwater photographers enthralled dive after dive.

To whet your urge for food for capturing macro, listed here are just some of New Zealand’s most iconic little critters – they could be small in stature however what they lack in measurement, they greater than make up for in uniqueness, character, behavioural shows and photogenics!


With regards to grumpy wanting backside dwellers, the scorpionfish (Scorpaena papillosa) have to be within the operating for the title! This critter’s greatest type of defence (and assault) is the power to adapt its pores and skin colouration to match the environment. The unimaginable camouflage talents of the scorpionfish imply that it could lay nonetheless and stay undetected to predators and it could actually stealthily creep up on unsuspecting prey.

Scorpionfish - Underwater - Marine Animal

Spiny sea dragon

These are in all probability probably the most iconic critters that divers need to sea in New Zealand. These elusive ‘dragons’ are usually discovered between 50-70m deep (165-245 ft) – typically even 100m+ deep (330 ft+)! In New Zealand nevertheless they're discovered within the shallower waters of the Milford Sound – the circumstances on this space replicate these of the deep waters permitting sea dragons to uniquely inhabit these diveable depths.

Little or no is presently recognized scientifically about Spiny Sea Dragons, they're recognisable by their lengthy spiny physique and lengthy snout, and their vibrant orange pores and skin with yellow and pink stripes.

Jason’s Nudibranch

The Jason mirabilis is a species of sea slug, referred to as an aeolid nudibranch. Like all aeolid nudibranch it's straightforward to determine Jason mirabilis by the cerata (spikey like appendages which cowl the physique).

Jason mirabilis could be discovered all through New Zealand between depths of Three-40 m (100-130 ft). This nudibranch feeds solely on hydrozoon polyps. Jason mirabilis incorporates the hydrozoon stinging cells into its cerata which then turning into stinging themselves. That is one critter species that basically ‘is what it eats!!’

Jason mirabilis show many various colors however mostly the physique is pink with pinkish white cerata.

Jason Mirabilis Nudibranch

Bushy Seaweed Crab

Decorator crabs are sometimes a favorite with underwater photographers, they can be amusing to observe in motion as they acquire gadgets to connect to their our bodies! The bushy seaweed crab is the most typical decorator crab seen in New Zealand rock swimming pools. It may be discovered all alongside New Zealand’s coast line the place it's often hiding beneath boulders in amongst brown seaweed. Though you will discover it in the course of the day, it’s most lively at night time and mostly seen throughout night time shore dives.

In New Zealand’s hotter waters, you’ll discover tropical decorator crabs which can beautify their our bodies with smooth corals and anemones. There are 43 totally different species of spider crabs (together with decorator crabs) present in New Zealand.

Giant bellied seahorse

The Giant-Bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) is the most important seahorse of the 35 species recognized worldwide. Like all seahorses it has a prehensile tail which it makes use of to understand onto seaweed and different gadgets of detritus.

As a result of it may change color to mix in with its surroundings, the seahorse can cleverly keep away from detection by its predators. On the similar time, it may ‘ambush’ its unsuspecting prey, which primarily consists of small marine crustaceans resembling shrimps. Seahorses haven't any tooth and swallow their meals entire, by sucking it up by way of their snout!

Seahourse - Yellow Seahorse - Underwater

 Zooanthid anemones

Not all photogenic critters in New Zealand are fish! New Zealand is residence to a shocking array of Zooanthid anemones. Zoanthids seem like tiny sea anemones. However whereas true sea anemones are solitary polyps, most zoanthids stay in colonies like corals do. However zoanthids don’t produce a tough skeleton just like the arduous coral colonies. As an alternative, their tissues are leathery and composed partly of chitin (the identical substance that insect exoskeletons are manufactured from).

The standard polyp has a cylindrical physique column, topped by a clean, flat oral disk that's edged by brief tentacles, often in two rows shut to at least one one other. The oral disk is usually in a contrasting, shiny color from the often brown or drab tentacles. When the tentacles are prolonged these anemones seem like underwater floral shows and are extremely photogenic!

Moray eels

In case you are fan of moray eels, you gained’t be disillusioned! New Zealand is residence to 5 species of moray eel and all 5 species of moray may be discovered within the north-eastern a part of the North Island.

The yellow moray is the most typical coastal species and is steadily noticed by divers, together with the gray moray eel which is the smallest and most interested in divers!

The noticed moray and the mosaic moray eels are fairly uncommon to see as a consequence of each species being extraordinarily shy. The speckled moray is mostly seen throughout night time dives and stays hidden away throughout daylight.

Moray Eel - Yellow - Underwater

Doris wellingtonensis Nudibranch

New Zealand is legendary for its large sea slugs and the Doris wllingtonensis is among the most iconic. Also called the warty nudibranch this isn't probably the most lovely sea creature however it's the largest sea slug present in New Zealand waters! The warty nudibranch is mushy and slimy in look and it's coated in blister-like protrusions with uncovered gills which are grey-orange in color.

The warty nudibranch is usually present in shallow waters, as much as simply 3meters (10 ft), the place it's noticed beneath rocks or sitting on orange colored sponges which it makes use of for camouflage and meals!

Crayfish (Lobsters)

There are two species of crayfish (lobster) in New Zealand, the spiny pink rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and the packhorse crayfish (Sagmariasus verreauxi).

The spiny pink rock lobsters, are by far the extra widespread and are discovered all through New Zealand waters in addition to elements of Australia. The packhorse crayfish may also be discovered all through New Zealand however they’re much more widespread within the north.  Packhorse are fairly simply distinguished from spiny reds in that they’re a inexperienced color however the primary distinction is the dimensions. Packhorse crayfish are the most important lobster species on the planet and should develop as much as a whopping 15kg (33 kilos). Each species might be noticed by divers in rock crevices.

Which of those critters are in your bucket-list and which have you ever already checked off? Begin planning your subsequent critter images dives in New Zealand by taking the Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty course and finding a local PADI dive shop.

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