On the afternoon of my arrival on the Greek island of Sifnos, I ventured down to the centre of a small fishing village situated around a narrow bay that is sheltered from the Aegean Sea. Strolling along the concrete pier that runs along one shoreline, from the beach out to deeper water, I noticed what appeared to be black blobs floating in the water. Looking closer, I saw that these blobs were, in fact, clumps of thousands of tiny fish. There were several of these clumps along the pier in water that ranged from approximately 20 cm to 1 metre in depth. The fish were mobile, basically wiggling around within the clump, with a few swimming as individuals around the periphery of the group, but always in close proximity to it.
As I watched, I noticed that though buffeted by the wind and wave action, the clumps remained basically in the same positions until a predator fish appeared. Then the cluster would scatter, fanning out in regular patterns in all available directions. However, when the perceived danger had passed, the thousands-of-fish clumps would re-form and once again become a wriggling mass so thick that even though each individual fish was transparent, the mass appeared black. I observed this phenomenon that afternoon, the next day, and the next, and then the clumps were gone with no sign of the little fish.
Apparently, what I witnessed is quite common in the fish world, a normal part of the life cycle of many species, but the fact that it happens does not take away from the fascination the phenomenon generates nor the curiosity it evokes about how and why. What factors contributed to these clumps appearing at this precise time? The temperature, the winds, the currents, the shelter of the pier, the fact that this occurred during a full moon phase, or other factors that we cannot ascertain or measure? What does it say about behaviour, for example, individual vs. group? I am sure viewers of these photographs will have many additional questions of their own.
While the clumps existed in the bay, they were the centre of attraction among visitors and village residents alike. Everyone from the youngest to oldest stopped and watched, completely rapt with what they saw. This universal fascination and the many unanswered questions suggest to me that below the veneer of our modern technological society, our world is still firmly in the grasp of natural, primal, fundamental forces that were there "In the Beginning". Forces that we do not yet comprehend, but ones that have had and will continue to have an enormous effect on us and our future.
This series of photographs was taken in 2014.
Images from the series (click to view): In the Beginning #1
, In the Beginning #2
, In the Beginning #3
There are other images in this series that are not on this website. If you are interested in more information about them, please leave a message below or email