While on assignment, photojournalist Brian Skerry has lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and traveled in everything from snowmobiles to canoes to helicopters to get the picture. Skerry, who specializes in underwater and marine-related subjects, pursues stories that will increase awareness about the sea. He was recently named runner-up in the British Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year competition for his work on the collapse of the world’s fisheries. His latest assignment, for the November issue of National Geographic magazine, took him to the waters off the coast of Japan. Because the water varies from frigid to temperate to tropical, the range of marine life he found is astonishing. – National Geogrpahic
Above: Aptly called a sea angel, this translucent creature is a snail whose foot has been modified into a pair of swimming wings. About an inch long, sea angels are an important food for whales and fish in the frigid waters off Japan’s northern coast.
In Suruga Bay a strand of whip coral provides habitat for two shrimps, camouflaged among the polyps. The smaller male leads a female on a single file march.
Seventy miles southwest of Tokyo, a moray eel slithers through the branches of a soft coral in the cool waters of Suruga Bay. Deep and narrow, the bay plummets more than 8,000 feet.
Hunting for morsels of plankton, a school of spadefish hovers near the surface off Japan’s subtropical Bonin Islands. The turquoise color permeates the water late in the afternoon, as the red rays of the setting sun spread out and grow weak.
A sand tiger shark off the Bonin Islands will soon give birth. During the nine-month pregnancy, the largest two pups will have eaten their siblings for sustenance, a kind of cannibalism unique to this species.
Off the Izu Peninsula, a yellow goby peers through the window of its corroded soda-can home, evidence of the 127 million people just above the water’s surface.
Underneath the ice, spikes meet spikes as an Alaska king crab the size of a nickel crawls over a knobby sea star. After a dozen years, the crustacean will grow to the size of a tractor tire.
A wrasse cleans the skin of a wrought iron butterflyfish, whose black-and-white motif reminds Japanese of a samurai’s kimono pattern.