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Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

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SALT PIER
There’s something strangely comforting about exploring man-made superstructures underwater. I can’t decide whether it’s because there’s a sense of the familiar involved in the experience or the opposite. There’s the bonus of always knowing exactly where you are yet at the same time, you just never know what will reveal itself. Floating around beneath the criss-cross pilings of an immense pier is kind of like being in the middle of an urban jungle, only that it’s submerged.

Over time the pillars become encrusted with a cornucopia of sponges. Colourful splodges of algae make quirky shapes; fish lay their eggs on the stanchions and buzz about aerating them. Critters find shelter in unlikely places and the food chain begins to grow. In no time at all, you become engrossed in the rhythm of life that is an artificial reef.

We’re so very quick to marvel at the feats of engineering that are our bridges and rigs, piers and jetties, but I’m more enamoured by the world that’s hidden to most. It amazes me that in a relatively short space of time, life adopts an alien landscape and then transforms it. 'Super Nature' takes something that’s invaded its realm and reclaims it with magnificent pizzazz. I like that! I like it a lot. I imagine the twilight party that goes on beneath the pier. You know, the one that kicks off after the last diver has surfaced. The one where the critters dance around, nonchalantly shrug at human endeavour and simply say, “Yeah, but we do it better!”

Photographed in Bonaire. ISO200. f/11. 1/100secs. 15mm lens. Twin INON S2000's.