Goby With Its Mouth Agape

I've long been fascinated with the moment that fishes open their mouths.

lubricogobius exiguus goby mouth open
Little goby, mouth wide open (License image)

Many species one sees while diving do this. I don't know why, or even whether there is only a single reason. I only know that they do it.

Whatever the case may be, the process is usually quick, though the lead-up can be protracted, especially with larger species like frogfishes, scorpionfishes and such. 

In the case of this little Lubricogobius exiguus goby though, the moment was a sliver of a split-second.

I was fortunate to be at peak concentration when the fish decided to yawn (for lack of a better term). I had just fine-tuned the lighting I wanted and had settled into "the zone," that state of being when I push everything out of my thoughts, open myself to the subject and setting, and wait.

What cue it is that I'm waiting for is not always obvious, but I know it when it happens. Or rather, my instincts know. That is to say, when I have successfully achieved optimal zone status, my conscious mind is all but removed from the situation. I'm on autopilot. I react without deliberate effort. 

Fish yawns; shutter released. One continuous flow. Only then do I become aware of what's transpired.

It's a strange phenomenon that I find difficult to explain, but the more I try to think, the less successful I am with reacting when reacting needs to happen. Conversely, the more I quiet myself—make still thoughts, emotions and inner chaos—the better able I am to sync with scene and subject. 

I've heard something similar explained in the context of sports as four stages of skill development:

  1. You have to think, but you suck at whatever skill it is
  2. You have to think, but you begin to gain proficiency
  3. You have to think less, you build proficiency
  4. You don't think, you have proficiency

I'm sure this applies to many other pursuits as well.

Just throwing it out there, because this photo sort of took itself, in the sense I just explained.