Taking Photos Underwater

•April 23, 2013 • 12 Comments

While I was diving in Indonesia, my friend Mark Colbridge took a video as I was taking photos underwater so that you can see my equipment as well as the animals that I was photographing. Notice that I always carry a spare scuba tank for safety and that I use two strobes to light my subjects. Watch the video and you will understand the small size of the blue ring octopus and the flamboyant cuttlefish compared to the size of my camera. Click on the link below to watch the video. Enjoy!



Voracious Appetite

•April 23, 2013 • 2 Comments

Melina and Eleni from Campion Year 4 asked whether humans eat the mantis shrimp. Humans have a voracious appetite and eat everything from seaweeds to bananas, from spiders to ants, from locusts to scorpions, you name it. In fact, exactly because we eat practically every plant and animal on the planet, we are driving many species to extinction. I have never eaten a mantis shrimp which is a rather popular shrimp in Asia. They say it is delicious like lobster. You can eat it steamed, fried or grilled or with spaghetti. See some mantis shrimp dishes below.




Below you can see two fishermen with their prized catch: two giant mantis shrimp


In Italian, Canocchie means mantis shrimp. Italians love to eat the mediterranean mantis shrimp species.  Below you can watch a video and learn how to cook spaghetti with mantis shrimp. Although it is in Italian it is not so difficult to understand. Ask your mum and/or dad to help you with the recipe and try to cook spaghetti with mantis shrimp over the weekend. You can replace the mantis shrimp with “regular” shrimp and achieve the same result. Good luck!

For those of you who would like to watch something funny, here is another video for you. I could not find a video of Mr. Bean eating mantis shrimp but here he is trying to eat oysters and shrimp in a French restaurant. Enjoy!


Deadly Strike

•April 10, 2013 • 14 Comments

In the video below you can see one of the most formidable underwater predators: the mantis shrimp! Watch how the shrimp can even break a glass in order to reach its prey!

Putting your fingers within the strike zone of a mantis shrimp is not a very clever thing to do. Before you realize it, the mantis shrimp can easily smash a couple of your fingers… Painful for sure.To take the following photo, I protected my fingers with the body of my housing. I had to get really close so as to take a photo of the mantis shrimp eyes. As I approached the mantis shrimp with my camera housing, my main concern was the safety of my camera rather than my fingers. If the mantis shrimp decided to strike the glass of my camera housing, water would have entered inside the housing and my camera would be ruined.


These are strange looking eyes. I wonder how we would see things if we were equipped with a set of mantis shrimp eyes.








Peacock Spiders: Colour Variations

•April 8, 2013 • 2 Comments


Photo: Leon Petrinos


Photo: Jurgen C. Otto

Regading Peacock Spiders (also called Jumping Spiders), I received a comment from Ms. Myers which reads as follows: “Are these patterns and colourings unique or can you find many with the same appearance?” This question had me thinking most of the weekend. Let’s start with zebra’s: When you look at a herd of zebra’s, you might be confused as their lines blend together. However, each zebra has a distinct line pattern, much like our finger prints, and as a result it is easily identified by other zebras in the herd. This is very important for the daily life of the herd. Youngsters can easily identify their mother despite the fact that zebras may all look alike. In fact, they are all different.

Peacock spiders do not live in herds but their colours are also important in identifying idividuals, in this case individual males. Each species has the same pattern and colours but there are slight variations that help identify individuals. So from the viewpoint of a female peacock spider, there are no identical males! See below two males of another peacock spider species as they display their colours in an effort to attract a female.


In these two photos by Jurgen Otto, look at the two male spiders displaying to sighted females with their  fans extended.
The variation in their colour (from purple to blue to bluegreen to green to yellow-green) is based in part on individual variation, and in
part on the direction of incident light and the position of the observer.

Peacock Spiders

•April 5, 2013 • 13 Comments


Photos by Jurgen C. Otto

These amazing spiders are only 5 mm long and live in Eastern Australia. They are called Peacock Spiders due to the fabulous colours of the male spider. The striking colours do not advertise any p;oisonous qualities of these spiders. Males use their colours to attract female spiders during the mating season. See how a male Peacock Spider displays its colours in the video below:

Alexander’s 25 Million Jack Fruits!

•March 29, 2013 • 4 Comments

Alexander’s question about the weight of 25 million Jack Fruits made me think and think again. What if someone had to transport 25 million Jack Fruits from Indonesia to Europe or the US? Is there anybody out there building huge ships? Of course there is. In fact one of the most challenging engineering professions of our times is the job of a naval architect. Would you like to work as a naval architect and design some of the the largest (such as supertankers), most complex (such as Aircraft carriers), and highly valued movable structures produced by mankind. What a fascinating job. Imagine trying to put together the pieces of a huge ship and in the process to try to make the most energy efficient design. Tough job geting those 25 million Jack Fruits around the globe…… So I looked on you tube and found some interesting video clips for you. In the following video clip you will see a vessel capable of transporting 18,000 containers!!! This is currently the world’s largest ship. WOW!!!!

Look how this HUGE ship was build in 76 seconds! 50,000 pictures were taken over three months to produce this timelapse video. Enjoy.

Did this short presentation trigger your interest in naval architecture and ship design and construction? If so, then have a look at


Connecting Cultures: Part Two

•March 25, 2013 • 3 Comments

Following a KBR initiative, we connected KBR with the Campion School in Athens via skype. Students from Year 4 had the chance to ask Ms. Linda, KBR’s general manager, about her demanding job. In addition, they talked with Mr. Benny, the head of the tourism office in Bitung. Mr. Benny talked to the students about the garbage situation in the Lembeh Strait and the need for immediate action. He told them that the tourism office had launched a major campaign inviting students in Bitung to submit the proposals about the garbage problem and its possible solutions. In this context, he asked year 4 students to submit their proposals as well. Following this skype session, Mr. Benny said “if we can do this interaction with students across the globe, why don’t we do something here in Indonesia. Would you agree to talk to students here in Bitung?”. Of course I agreed and Mr. Benny arranged all the details. However, I never expected it would be so many students. 1300 in one school and about 800 in the second achool. WOW! What a great audience. The Vice Mayor of Bitung, Mr. Max Lomban, presided those two meetings. It was a great honour for myself to be part of this effort. In the short video that follows, you can see me speaking to the first group of 1300 students and you can also watch the Vice Mayor. His speach is in Indonesian but I think it is important for you to see that language is not a barrier when we have a common goal!

I am also including a few photos from these two events. In the first photo you can see the Vice Mayor of Bitung, Mr. Max Lomban, and myself, among the students.


In the following photo, Mrs. Ais Tukunang, myself and the Vice Mayor of Bitung Mr. Max Lomban.


The school’s best student asked me some questions in flawless English. Mrs. Ais translated in Indonesian.


1300 students!! WOW!


In the second school, 800 attentive students!!


A chance to take a photo with the teachers. It was really hot that day!


And a photo with the students.


The Vice Mayor of Bitung, Mr. Max Lomban, addressing the students.


The Vice Mayor listening to a student’s opinion.


The Vice Mayor giving a prize to a student. The prize is 100,000 Rupiah, the Indonesian currency, and it is really a lot of money for a student. It will cover her pocket money for a month or even more.


The school’s headmaster presenting to the Vice Mayor the student proposals about the garbage clean up of the Lembeh Strait.


The following picture says it all: TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT! Yes, there can be a cleaner Lembeh Strait.


Artwork made by the students using plastic garbage.


Campion students met Mr. Benny, the head of Bitung’s tourist office, in the skype session. In the following photo he is holding the clean up proposals presented to him by the students of Bitung and the Year 4 students of Campion School in Athens.


Mr. Benny sends a message to all Campion Year 4 students thanking them for their enthusiastic participation. He decided to give a best proposal award to Emily from Mrs. Myers class. Emily’s proposal reads as follows:

“You can put a sign that says: ”Before you throw rubbish in the sea, think: ” If I throw rubbish in the sea, the rare species will eat it and they will become endangered and eventually extinct.” You can also have a person to watch the fisherman if they pollute. There could be a prize for the person that helped the most with convincing people not to throw rubbish”.
It was Emily’s suggestion to offer a prize to the person that helped the most in convincing people not to throw rubbish that made her proposal special. So, Mr. Benny gave me two official T-Shirys from the city of Bitung and asked me to present one to Emily as an award for her proposal and one to Leon for his participation in the skype session.
I was very happy to receive a card from Iro, Melina and Angeliki!!!!!