The Current of Life

Laurent Ballesta's Image

Thousands of convict surgeonfish congregated to spawn in a narrow channel leading to the South Pacific Ocean – and sharks gathered to feed on them. Laurent photographed the fish scattering as the last rays of sun lit their billowing eggs. He spent four years diving around this remote coral reef observing its marine life.

The phenomenon pictured takes place every new moon at sunset, concluding in under an hour. In order for their eggs to be swept away into the ocean by the current ripping out of the lagoon, convict surgeonfish will run the risk of being eaten by grey reef sharks. Far from the shallows, the eggs are protected from a wealth of small predators.

Behind the lens

Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta


Coming from the coastal region of Montpellier in France, Laurent discovered the sea at an early age. While studying benthic ecology at university he discovered a new species of fish in the Mediterranean. He has published portfolios in many international magazines and appears on the French television show Ushuaïa Nature as a scientific advisor in marine environment.

Image details

  • Nikon D5
  • 20–35mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/250 sec at f8  •   ISO 800  •   Seacam housing  •   Under Water strobes
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