Moving like a skydiver

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My hands are so cold. At 70 feet under the surface the pressure makes my thick gloves so much thinner and the insulation effect is almost gone. I glide over deserted rock formations looking for a special creature in the murky water. I know the nudibranches go deeper in the winter and the numb feeling in my hands only 15 minutes into the dive makes this definitely winter. Water temperature down here is around 42 degrees farenheit (6°C). South coast of Norway at this depth is not much warmer in the summer, but this is January. I swim on the edge of a deep drop off and suddenly I spot one. The bright color stands out. It is crawling slowly on a big leaf of kelp. I try to photograph it but there is so murky water at this spot. I decide to move it a few meters to the side where visibility is better. I gently hold the whole leaf with the nudibranch in my hand and swim carefully along the edge. What happens next was so wonderful.

Many

It suddenly let go of the leaf and starts to tumble through the water. It is almost neutral buoyant and the movement is in slow motion. It is rolling like a ball a few rounds before it stretches out and starts to steer for the bottom. It reminded me of a skydiver before opening his parachute. I position myself underneath and shoot upwards. I have never seen nudibranches photographed from the underside before. The light from my flashes hit the nudibranch and almost makes it glow. The rest of the light disappear in the water mass and reflects nothing. In the camera this becomes black and the nudibranch appear like suspended in space. I can see in the preview screen that it looks magic. I continue to free fall with this creature shooting lots of images until I reach my depth limit and have to stop. I get a long and very cold decompression stop at shallow water. I use the time flipping through the images and I can see it is worth it.

 

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