An image showing a photographer standing on the sea floor, dwarfed by an
enormous and towering "tornado" of fish has been an extremely popular
share item on Facebook for weeks. Now the details behind the image are
being shared by Mission Blue. The photographer is a scientist named Octavio Aburto, and the location was Cabo Pulmo National Park, a vast marine reserve in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, north of Cabo San Lucas on Baja California's tip.
The diver in the photo is David Castro, whose family helps enforce rules
within the park. The fish are jacks, voracious predators that school in
large groups and can sweep across a region in such large numbers that
they blot out the sun's rays.
Aburto told Mission Blue: "I think
my background [as a scientist] affects what I seek to capture through
my camera lens. For example, this 'David and Goliath' image is speaking
to the courtship behavior of one particular species of Jack fish. I
wanted to share this behavior with others and photography is one way to
The scientist explained that the image, captured last month and among entries in a National Geographic photo contest, had been in his mind for three years. But conditions and timing finally afforded the opportunity.
have been trying to capture this image ever since I saw the behavior of
these fish and witnessed this incredible tornado that they form during
courtship," Aburto said.
He added that many have asked whether
the image is real or altered, and how he managed to gather all those
fish together before taking the photograph.
"My response to
these questions has been this--of course it is real. Fish, as is the
case with many other animals, have certain behaviors that they perform
when they reproduce," Aburto said.
"... One reason that the
average person may not know about these fish spawning aggregations is
simply that these creatures live under water. People can't see the fish
participating in these behaviors, and those who do witness these
behaviors via scuba or snorkel are rarely able to capture it in an
Aburto hopes the image will foster appreciation for the
marine universe, for Cabo Pulmo National Park in particular, and will
"bring attention to other successful marine reserves, especially in
"With the help of key people, such as renowned
Mission Blue founder Sylvia Earle, we can show that marine reserves are
better options for coastal development. Basically, we need more Cabo
Pulmos along the Mexican coasts and around the world!"
NOTE: As RealityChecker has pointedly pointed out, correctly, these fish are not actually tuna. Jacks are members of the Carangidae family, and as some species appear somewhat superficially similar to members of the tuna family Scombridae, I added the TUNA to the descriptor simply to elicit a sense of familiarity. Not too many people know that several fish carry the word "jack" in their common name, so "A Tornado of Jack" just didn't seem to work. (Though I guess it could be changed to Horse-eye Jack........naaaah.)
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