Animals

By Jack Williams


This snapper has taken a Stranger Things approach to his underwater photography, peering into the Upside Down and photographing the most intriguing creatures of the deep.

Entitled ‘Blackwater ID’, Jeff Milisen’s unique series steps away from the larger fish of the ocean and instead focus on the micro subjects that lie in the deepest and darkest spots.

Shot against pitch-black backgrounds, Jeff’s images include glowing creatures with ties to crabs, lobsters, seahorses and jellyfish.

Jeff, 37, from Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, said: “Everyone expects the open ocean to be filled with megafauna like tuna and sharks.

“Ninety-nine percent of everything shot on blackwater is a macro subject, so the smaller the items you are looking for, the more incredible animals you will find.”

One of the most difficult parts about photographing such subjects, Jeff said, is the lack of light available.

To date, the photographer, who was raised in Connecticut but moved to Hawaii for university, said that he has photographed more than 250 species for Blackwater ID.

As well as photographing the waters off the coast of Hawaii, Jeff recently visited the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, an area that spans across much of the central Pacific.

Elsewhere in the world, he has visited waters off the coasts of Florida, Indonesia and Papa New Guinea.

Going forward, Jeff plans to see more of the world’s waters, adding to his Blackwater ID series, which is shot at night.

He said: “For the uninitiated, an abundant layer of animals live their days very deep in an area called the mesopelagic, where it is too dark to be seen.

“But there isn’t much food down there, so every night, they climb to the surface to feed.

“The layer of animals is so thick that it appears as a false bottom on sonar equipment.

“I refer to the nighttime open ocean as a biological soup.”