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The amazing photographs captured by an amateur photographer underwater

Last updated at 00:03am on 25th February 2008

These wonderful pictures of some of the most beautiful creatures of the deep are the work of just one photographer, taken over the past 30 years. Richard Merritt has won a host of awards for what could be described as holiday snaps.

His full-time job is as a computing lecturer at the University of Plymouth, but he is also one of the world’s most talented amateur underwater wildlife photographers.

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Broody: A gold specs jaw fish with its eggs


Technicolor battle: A harlequin shrimp and a starfish (left) and a harlequin filefish


Main attraction: The dwarf lionfish hides on reefs to ambush prey

“The big fish, sharks, rays and dolphins are exciting to photograph, but I have an even greater passion for smaller subjects,” he says.

“Coral reefs are bursting with life – tropical rainforests have nothing like the variety of readily-observed life found on a reef. There are countless subjects to be photographed and I try to see them in abstract terms, using tight framing to emphasis their form and colour.”

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Sucker punch: The venom of the blue-ringed octopus can kill a man


Purple patch: Mating sea slugs lay an egg spiral


What a sight! A close-up reveals the sophisticated eye of a cuttlefish

Mr. Merritt, 55, prefers not to use digital cameras. “All the small stuff is shot on film,” he explains. “I only have 36 shots, but I prefer the quality.”

Much of his work is done in the seas off Indonesia and Malaysia, and not just for the wide range of subjects to be found there. “I prefer to be warm when I dive,” he admits.

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A real slugger: This Indonesian sea slug has exposed gills and sensory ‘horns’, acquiring vivid colours from reef life it devours


Sleeping with the anemone: Pink anemone fish are protected from their host’s stings by a layer of mucus


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