[Coral-List] Strobes blind seahorses?

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 6 18:29:17 EDT 2010

As an experienced and avid underwater photographer, I would like
to chime in on the subject of how strobes may affect seahorses.
Since Coral-Listers are obviously all concerned about the future
of our reefs and the related ecology, I would assume that the
question is certainly relevant. It may not be as critical as 
determining the causes of mass bleaching events, but it is most
certainly germane.
I can only suggest that the effects of repeated strobe activations
are probably widely different for each occurrence, after all, there
are so many variables to consider. (Ex.the time of day; the power
of the strobe or strobes used; distance from subject; etc.)
I would think that it is reasonable to assume that even different 
individuals within a species might have varied reactions. 
I have observed behaviors that would suggest that certain individual
fish may even be attracted to the flash of light while others 
of the same species are repulsed.
As to actually causing physical damage, there is, in all probably
little or no empirical data. But, I for one would be interested in the
results of any in-depth study of the subject. Until then, those of us
involved in such activities should at least be aware of the possible 
ramifications and respond accordingly. 

 All UW photographers need to be more conscious of how they impact the
reef while pursuing that perfect shot.I have made my share of aggressive
photographer errors and can only hope to atone by helping others to better
understand the implications.

Steve Mussman
Sea Lab Diving 

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