The tiny eyes of the parasitic isopods peered out at Qing through the fish’s mouths. It took six dives, immense patience and a pinch of luck, but finally all three fish revealed their guests. In that moment Qing captured the three curious individuals, all lined up, eyes front and mouths open.
These tenacious isopods probably entered the anemonefish via their gills, attaching themselves to their host’s tongue. Over time, these crustaceans (distantly related to woodlice) will stretch their legs out and suck the fish’s blood until the tongue withers and dies. Eventually, they will replace the entire tongue.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III; 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f25; ISO 320; Sea & Sea housing; two Inon strobes.
Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
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Qing Lin, China
Born in Beijing, Qing now lives in Shenzhen and Toronto. He produced the Oscar-nominated film Dream Weavers and was appointed by the International Olympic Committee as the official film photographer for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He began diving in 2002.