The Golden Moment

Songda Cai's Image

Out on a night dive, Songda saw all sorts of larvae and tiny animals migrate up from the depths of the ocean, under cover of darkness, to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton, or microalgae. Then came this magnificent diamondback squid. It hovered beneath Songda for just a moment, basking in his nightlight, before disappearing in a flash of gold.

The squid pictured was just a hatchling, but, like an adult, it propelled itself with undulations of its triangular fins, sprinting away when faced with danger. Special organs in a diamondback squid’s skin – chromatophores – contain sacs of pigment that allow the animal to change colour. Other organs can reflect and scatter light.

Behind the lens

Songda Cai

Songda Cai


Songda is an ocean and wildlife marine conservation photographer, director of NOC Conservation Group in Shanghai and an Ocean Geographic Emerging Master Photographer. He is often diving from night to early morning - this enthusiasm has paid off with awards and recognition from his peers. He believes that 'being able to explore the depths of the ocean is one of the most wonderful experiences in life'.

Image details

  • Nikon D850
  • 60mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/200 sec at f20  •   ISO 500  •   Seacam housing  •   Seaflash 150D strobes  •   Scubalamp lights
  • Anilao, Calabarzon, Philippines
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