Tony Wu Photography

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."

- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki


The theme for this section is spawning aggregations of fish, a subject to which I have devoted quite a bit of time.

It all started when Japanese friends discovered the group-spawning of bumphead parrotfish in Palau. Seeing the event was awe-inspiring. Photographing it was a challenge. I failed repeatedly, which only made me hunker down and keep trying.

One thing led to another, and I ended up spending many months pursuing the bumpheads, as well as a couple of other species. Please read my blog posts if you're interested in additional background information: Bumphead parrotfish spawning; Lutjanus bohar spawning.

I'll start with the photo below of a spawning aggregation of Lutjanus bohar snappers. This image was the Under Water category winner of the 52nd Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest (#WPY52) organised by the Natural History Museum in London. (Read blog post about the award event.)


Sex-crazed fish engaged in group sex, a regular thing for them


Here are a few more photos of the same species:


I actually concentrated on photographing another species, Bolbometopon muricatum, prior to the bohar snappers. Scuba divers (including me) are usually delighted to come across a handful of these fish. In spawning aggregations, there can be thousands. Here are a few photos of bumphead parrotfish spawning:


I've also invested time watching sailfin snappers (Symphorichthys spilurus) spawn. Here's the thing though—they tend do it in areas of raging current, really deep, really fast, only a few fish at a time, with nearly zero warning. So I haven't figured out how to capture the actual spawning yet, not sure that it's humanly possible.

Below are photos of the fish gathering prior to spawning, foreplay so to speak, and a single fertilised embryo, at 10 and 35 hours post-spawning. Embryo courtesy the frantic-swimming and frenzied-net-waving of bearded madman Tom Bowling. Field microscope (with no proper camera attachment!) courtesy of Richard "Numbnuts" Barnden (yes, there are plenty of reasons why that nickname is perfect).