Kermadec Islands - photo galleries

By Dr J Floor Anthoni, 2002
This section lets you experience the Kermadec underwater world in full colour. Visit each gallery to submerge yourself in this wonderful environment. Over 150 images are awaiting your discovery: sea scapes, groupers, lion fishes, fishes, corals, crustaceans, echinoderms and molluscs - a representative selection of the most common organisms.
The introduction also gives a visual overview in the form of a black-felted pinboard containing thumbnails of each image. From here one can look at individual photos or visit the complete galleries. (located on this page) (8 pages)
Seascapes, habitats and interesting relationships. (6 pages)
The famous giant spotted black groupers deserve their own gallery. (4 pages)
The lionfish of the Kermadec deserves its own gallery. (4 pages)
Some common fishes of the Kermadecs. (8 pages)
Coelentherates:  the flower animals like corals, gorgonians and anemones. (5 pages)
Crabs, hermit crabs and barnacles. (2 pages)
Sea urchins, starfish and feather stars. (5 pages)
Snails and the famous giant limpet, but also worms included here. (2 pages)

Note! for best printed results, set your page up with a left margin of 1.5cm (0.6") and right margin of 1.0cm (0.4")
The whole section covers about 3.5MB, including text, drawings and over 150 photographs.
For corrections, suggestions and improvements, e-mail me.
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The underwater images shown in these photo galleries were obtained during an expedition in May 2002. They give a pictorial view, almost like the underwater experience itself, because they illustrate a great variety of aspects. Each image is annotated, explaining what it shows, and altogether, disclosing valuable bits of information - true learning by experience.

Unfortunately, the marine environment of these islands is still poorly understood and scientific knowledge scarce. It may take a while before all creatures have been identified and given their proper scientific names. Under its biodiversity strategy, New Zealand is actively pursuing its goal to collect and identify all of its marine and terrestrial species. However, because the Kermadec Islands are so remote, while accommodating a large number of unique (endemic) species, this process may take many years, or even decades. This section will be updated as soon as more scientific information becomes available.

Visit each gallery by clicking on the head link of each. While studying the first images on the page, all others are down-loaded as well. Scroll down the page to see them all. You can also print each gallery, like you can print this page.

Each photograph has a unique file number (f012345), by which it can be ordered. See the photo library for conditions of sale.

Kermadec underwater ecology - what it looks like

The first impression when seeing the underwater landscape, is that of barrenness. Compared to the densely clad rocky shore of the New Zealand main islands, the Kermadec shores appear barren, because the organisms clinging to their rocks are smaller. Instead of large seaweeds (macroalgae), one finds corals interspersed with matting green and red algae. The water is too cold for corals to form extensive reefs, but it is clear, allowing for over 30m visibility. The water moves relentlessly, powered by large swell curving around the island while penetrating every sheltered nook. Sea currents are unexpectedly strong, and planktonic food is scarce. Yet one can encounter dense schools of fish and large predators as well. The rocks are volcanic, and often too soft to give a safe holdfast for large organisms like corals and sponges, but glorious exceptions can be found.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031027: Grey knife fish swimming close to the surface
  • f031312: Dense schools near promontories
  • f031028: Coral seascape
  • f031029: Coral seascape in turbulent water
  • f031030: Corals, green seaweeds and red algae
  • f031230: Tightly woven mats of green and red algae
  • f031406: Algae, corals and grazing brown urchins
  • f031408: Giant Kermadec limpets in the wavewash
  • f031005: Crown of thorns star and dead corals
  • f031237: Tubefeet and stomach of COT star
  • f031414: A bared rock face slowly recovering
  • f031200: Fruit bowl coral damaged by anchor chain
  • f031328: A large fruit bowl coral in calmer water
  • f031325: Sunlit side of a rock face with COT star
  • f031334: Shaded side of a rock face
  • f031121: Close-up of shaded wall with orange sponges
  • f032005: A fast growing purple opportunistic sponge.
  • f031404: Brown soft corals and grey hard corals
  • f031411: Barren rock, corals, weeds and fish
  • f031419: Barren hard basaltic rock
  • f031422: Plate corals on hard basaltic rock
  • f031824: Purple urchin and top shell
  • f031425: A garden of lush soft corals in a sheltered, shallow place
  • f031510: Caves and overhangs are in short supply
Visit the ecology gallery

Kermadec giant groupers - these are the famous groupers

For their giant groupers alone, these islands are worth visiting. Some are over 50kg and 50 years old. They can grow even larger and older. Miraculously, these impressive, intelligent and inquisitive fish have been spared their extinction, as they disappeared almost everywhere else in the world, including the main islands of New Zealand. Now that they are fully protected, their human visitors behave in friendly ways, a welcome change in the boredom of their fishy lives. Known as spotted black groupers SBG (Epinephelus daemelii) these large fish are limited to the subtropical waters of northern New Zealand, Norfolk Island and the Kermadecs, which amounts to a very small habitat area on the globe. This makes them rare.
Born as females, the larger groupers turn into males later in life, surrounding themselves with harems of half a dozen or more smaller females. Groupers are usually found where the sandy bottom meets the rocky shore, and where a cave or sheltering canyon is nearby.
The photos we selected, show how these large fish interact with snorkeldivers. Enjoy your swim!

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031724: A freediver comes down to meet large White-lip
  • f031607: White-lip the large male grouper comes for a feed
  • f031613: White-lip is really large and daunting
  • f031701: A large female has become spotted-brown
  • f031703: Two females vie for the crumbs of dog-sausage
  • f031704: Large grouper and snorkeldiver
  • f031706: A large female wraps herself around the diver
  • f031715: A large female spotted black grouper
  • f031716: A large grouper showing its fleshy tail
  • f031608: A large female grouper enjoying a rub
  • f031600: Close-up of white-lip the large grouper
  • f031700: Two female groupers
  • f031709: Closeup of curious female grouper
  • f031717: A freediver swims towards a female grouper
  • f031612: White-lip opens his gill covers wide
  • f031719: Snorkeldiver and groupers
  • f031718: Snorkeldiver meeting an inquisitive female grouper
  • f031332: A young grouper hangs motionless in his home
Visit the grouper gallery

Kermadec firefishes - the beautiful lionfishes

Lion fishes or firefishes occur in all tropical seas. They are small predators extravagantly equipped with wings, folded like petticoats. They represent a pinnacle in evolution, both in shape and in the way they live. Their elaborate fins do not allow them to move fast, but enable them to herd smaller fish into corners of the reef, or to even catch these inside their many frills. Let there be no mistake, it is a fierce predator. Unlike scorpionfishes who have lost their swim bladders, the lionfishes can hover above the rocks, using their many ailerons for hang-gliding. They can even do this upside down! Meeting these fish and observing them, defies imagination, hence the many images shown here. The lionfish shown here has been identified as Pterois volitans.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031320: Firefish and diver
  • f030917: Firefish at dusk
  • f031820c: Firefish fireworks silhouetted against a clear blue sea
  • f030924: Firefish closeup
  • f030937c: Firefish hovering above, showing its many petticoats
  • f030920: Lionfish in its cave
  • f031819: Firefish exiting its cave, lined in pink, purple and green
  • f031820: Firefish daring to swim in the open
  • f031131: Five lionfish in cave
  • f031125: Firefish showing its opulent wings
  • f031132: Firefish swimming upside down
Visit the gallery of lionfishes

Kermadec fishes - varied and beautiful

Divers familiar with the northern waters of New Zealand, will recognise many of the fishes of the Kermadec islands, because in some years their larvae are lucky enough to make the journey south to settle along the NE coast of NZ. But such intrusions are few and far between(and mainly in the warmer years before 1970), and not being able to propagate, their numbers dwindle, and they disappear again. But here at the Kermadecs, life is not easy either, reason why many fishes found here are niche feeders, living a long life on little food. 
But their variety is stunning, far too large to capture in a single visit. Here are the most common ones.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031228: Young mosaic moray in shagpile coral
  • f031203: Cook's scorpionfish (Scorpaena cookii)
  • f030916: Toadstool grouper and northern scorpionfish
  • f031122: Toadstool groper (Trachypoma macracanthus)
  • f030934: Yellow-banded perch (Acanthistius cinctus)
  • f031818: Goldribbon groper (Aulacocephalus temmincki)
  • f031016: Northern kahawai (Arripis xylabion)
  • f031008: Grey knifefish (Bathystethus cultratus)
  • f031023: Grey and yellow drummers
  • f031032: Caramel drummers (Girella fimbriata) and grey drummers
  • f031221: Splendid hawkfish (Cirrhitus splendens)
  • f031129: Painted moki (Cheilodactylus ephippium)
  • f031207: Lord Howe coral fish in sleeping colours
  • f032002: Lord Howe coralfish (Amphichaetodon howensis)
  • f031519: Striped boarfish (Evistias acutirostris)
  • f031126: Notch-head marblefish and blackspot goatfish
  • f030931: Kermadec scalyfin (Parma kermadecensis)
  • f031526: Two-spot and Kermadec demoiselles
  • f032008: Male orange wrasse (Pseudolabrus luculentus)
  • f031313: Blue maomao, demoiselles and diver
  • f031311: Adult two-spot demoiselles swarming a diver
  • f031227: Grey moray eel (Gymnothorax nubilus)
  • f031235: Morse-code leatherjacket (Thamnaconus analis)
Visit the gallery of fishes

Kermadec corals - slow growing and tenacious

For New Zealanders, the Kermadecs are interesting because the seascape is dominated by corals rather than large seaweeds. This section shows the variety in coelentherates (flower animals) found there, ranging from sun-loving corals to gorgonians and anemones. 

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031422: Plate corals on nearly barren rock
  • f032000: A solitary plate coral on a barren rock
  • f032001: Detail of plate coral
  • f031106: Shagpile coral and toadstool grouper
  • f030905: The long tentacles of the shagpile coral
  • f030907: Soft coral
  • f030908: Detail of soft coral
  • f030914: Soft cabbage coral
  • f031103: Fruit bowl coral
  • f031233: Detail of coral polyps
  • f031323: A large purple gorgonian
  • f031501: Young purple gorgonians
  • f031502: Yellow zoanthid anemones on gorgonian frame
  • f031505: Orange gorgonian
  • f031508: Yellow gorgonian
  • f031506: Yellow tube corals and purple gorgonian
  • f031218: Green tube coral
  • f031814: Red actinia-like wandering anemones
Visit the gallery of corals

Kermadec crustaceans - secretive and vulnerable

Lobsters, shrimps and crabs are some of the most hunted species, and in order to survive, they have developed amazing strategies to remain undetected or to to surround themselves with bastions, not built by themselves. It requires much time and patience to capture these animals on film, even though many won't run away.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

Visit the crustaceans gallery

Kermadec echinoderms - the urchins and starfish

The Kermadec Islands have a large variety of echinoderms. They play an important role in the fragile ecology of the islands. The most obvious and common ones are shown in this gallery.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

  • f031804: Purple urchins on Macdonalds rock
  • f031824: Purple urchin and top shell
  • f030424: Close-up of purple urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersi) 
  • f030901: Pied urchin (Tripneustes gratilla) 
  • f030909: Close-up of pied urchin
  • f030925: White urchin
  • f031204: Young diadema urchin (Diadema palmeri) 
  • f031205: Close-up of young diadema urchin
  • f031115: Black featherstars and diadema urchins
  • f031117: Close-up of diademas
  • f031815: Pencil urchin
  • f031006: Corals killed by COT star
  • f031109: Crown of thorns star, seen from above
  • f030904: Crown of thorns star (Acanthaster planci) 
  • f031110: closeup of COT star
  • f031202: Macro closeup of COT star
  • f031232: Orange gingerbread star
  • f031806: Orange ?? star
  • f032006: Black seven-armed star (Astrostole sp) 
  • f031808: Brown seven armed star (Astrostole sp.)
  • f031809: Brown seven-armed star, close-up
  • f031822: Mottled seven-armed star (Astrostole sp.)
  • f030932: Black and yellow feather stars
  • f031506: Yellow feather stars
  • f031507: Brown feather stars
Visit the echinoderms gallery

Kermadec molluscs - the amazing giant limpet

The Kermadecs do not have many species of mollusc, but the giant limpet makes up for that. It is found only here, and is perhaps the largest limpet on Earth (there is a larger one in Chile).
In this section also other lower animals like worms.

Click on the link above or on the black-felt pinboard bottom right, in order to visit the complete gallery.

Visit the molluscs gallery