The Komodo sea apple, Pseudocolochirus violaceus, is a beautifully coloured sea cucumber. This purple, red, and yellow animal is common in the southern parts of the Komodo National Park. Due to their round shape, many divers mistake these animals for plants rather than a sea cucumber. Like other sea cucumbers, the sea apple can expel it’s guts when it feels threatened. It can also expel a toxin into the surrounding water to scare off predators.
Sea apples are filter feeders with a number of feet which capture plankton and then transfer it to the “mouth”. The transfer takes place one tentacle at a time with the feathery end of the tentacle entering the mouth. Many divers and photographers are attracted to Sea Apples due to their bright colours. However, a closer look reveals this interesting feeding behaviour. As a film maker, I am always capturing this cycle on video. However, I also wanted to show it with a photograph which is not an easy task.
Thinking Outside the Box
The key to this photograph is isolating the mouth and one tentacle from the rest of the cucumber. When the sea apple is feeding the tentacles spread out very wide and double the size of the animal. In order to separate one tentacle from the rest a macro lens is necessary, in this case a 60mm lens. I steadied myself above the animal and waited as the tentacles went through their cycle. By being patient and watching I was able to time the capture as a tentacle entered the mouth. This “artsy” or abstract photo really captures the imagination due to the contrasting colours of the sea apple itself.
Shot with 60mm lens, f16, 1/200, ISO 200 Sea and Sea Strobes
Interested in seeing a Sea Apple yourself? Join us in Komodo in June 2018 aboard the Mermaid 1 liveaboard