Tobias Friedrich Reveals the Surreal Creatures of the Deep in “Blackwater”

All photos by Tobias Friedrich. Used with Creative Commons permission.

We often hear that we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to exploring the depths of our oceans. That statement can easily make anyone with a wild imagination and penchant for fantasy imagine just what kind of creatures lurk in the darkest depths of our oceans. Fortunately for us, there are bright and brave minds like German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, who work hard to show us some of what we can find down there.

Previously, Friedrich provided a glimpse of the otherworldly beauty that lies beneath the icebergs and frozen surfaces of East Greenland. Today, he takes us much deeper to show that life thrives down there, and such life reveals itself to those brave enough to do a blackwater dive.

According to Friedrich, blackwater diving involves night dives into deep waters, sometimes going up to thousands of meters in depth. The purpose of this is to observe the pelagic marine creatures, and those in their larval status, as they rise to the surface to feed in the shallow, nutrient-rich waters. This, he also noted, is the largest vertical migration of animals on the planet, which is why underwater photographers are so keen on doing this dive. The creatures are often attracted to the lights of the divers, who plunge mostly between five and 15 meters, but not usually deeper than 30.

Larval Wunderpus Octopus, Anilao – Philippines

Larval Mantis Shrimp, Anilao – Philippines

Reef Squid in long exposure, Bali – Indonesia

Female Paper Nautilus in a Salp, Anilao – Philippines

Male Paper Nautilus, Anilao – Philippines

Jackfish with jellyfish, Bali – Indonesia

Reef Squid with background bubbles, Bali – Indonesia

The marine creatures he photographed in the Philippines and Indonesia are mesmerizing and otherworldly, glowing in blues, greens, and yellows against the darkness of the water. These photos expertly demonstrate bioluminescence, the fascinating biological phenomenon of living creatures producing and emitting light. It’s an alien world down there, and these squids, fishes, shrimps, and octopuses are some of the strangest yet most mesmerizing sea creatures known to man so far.

In the video below, Friedrich shares more about blackwater diving, some tips for blackwater photography, and what makes it an exciting experience for underwater photographers and videographers.

To see more underwater projects by Tobias Friedrich, make sure to visit his website and Behance portfolio.