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Underwater photographer captures astonishing moment thousands of fish swirled into a deep sea tornado
22:10 GMT, 17 December 2012
An underwater photographer has captured what can only be described as an undersea tornado of swirling fish seen mesmerizing divers off Mexico's coast.
Thousands of fish banded together to produce the churning mass of eyes, mouths and fins on the bottom of the Sea of Cortez’s Cabo Pulmo National Park in what photographer and scientist Octavio Aburto calls a natural though extremely rare phenomenon.
'In the afternoon, these fish congregate to form a large spawning aggregation around the reefs of the National Park,' Mr Aburto wrote with a photo since entered into National Geographic's 2012 photo contest.
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Twister: This underwater tornado composed entirely of swimming fish was captured by mesmerized divers, one seen left, off Mexico's coast last month
Titanic proportions: Seen here photographer Octavio Aburto captured his friend and fellow diver David Castro carefully approaching the swarm
'We ended up swimming all over the place
following the fish and waiting for them to start performing the
courtship behaviour,' he told Mission Blue of the photograph taken on
He describes it taking at least an hour before the fish banded together as seen.
Titled David and Goliath, Mr Aburto's submitted photograph captures his friend David Castro's miniscule size in comparison to the gigantic school.
At the angle taken, one fish in the foreground appears to be at least half Mr Castro’s size, if not larger.
So remarkable, since its photograph Mr Aburto says he’s received never-ending emails and phone calls questioning his work’s authenticity.
Up close: Thousands of fish off Mexico's Sea of Cortez banded together to complete the school, each of their eyes, mouths and fins carefully pictured here
Rarity: Mr Aburto described their remarkable swim as a courtship behaviour that's rarely seen, especially on camera
Many accuse him of photoshopping his images or corralling the fish unnaturally into one place for the magnificent act.
‘One reason that the average person may not know about these fish spawning aggregations is simply that these creatures live underwater. People can’t see the fish participating in these behaviors, and those who do witness these behaviors via scuba or snorkel are very rarely able to capture it in an image,’ he told Mission Blue.
‘The other major problem is that it has become increasingly more rare to see these types of spawning aggregations because overfishing has left fish stocks so depleted,’ he said.
Working as a researcher for Cabo Pulmo for more than 15 years, Mr Aburto says he hopes his photographs will raise awareness of devastation inflicting the national undersea parks, as well as their preservation through conscious effort.
Watch the video here:
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