Pantone colour of the year 2019: "Actual" living coral

Pantone have announced their colour of the year, and its Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral.

Although they seem to have unfortunately dropped the ball a little by featuring a notorious FRESHWATER fish, which is considered a mongrel species, teamed with artificial and therefore NOT living coral! As a diver and underwater photographer I felt it necessary to correct this by showing off some of my actual living coral and marine life photos. Lets be honest, it's also a great great excuse to show off some of my best shots! Both of us (Matt and Lisa) love to dive whenever possible, and won't be seen underwater without our cameras. We announced last year that we had moved to Port Stephens, and the driving factor for that was that it has some of the best dive spots in Australia for macro photography. The photos below are a mix from around us locally and a recent trip we had to the Philippines.


Pygmy Seahorse & Fan Coral

Pygmy seahorse
Fan coral with star fish

Both of these were take on our latest trip of the Philippines while diving with Liquid Dumaguete. The pygmy seahorse is the smallest seahorse species and this one was only around 6mm. l must have been one of the most challenging photos I've ever taken. Both as it was so small and it was living on it's coral that was 31m below the surface. We had to split up into multiple groups as we each only had a few minutes of no-decompression time before we had to begin returning to the surface.

We came across this fan coral while on a drift dive along a deep wall. I just found the patterns mesmerising and loved the way the starfish blended in.


Camelback Shrimp, Glass Shrimp & Frogfish

Peppermint shrimp
Glass Shrimp

Although we included the camelback shrimp for the colour, their eyes are also definitely worth a mention. These big reflective green eyes enable the shrimp to manoeuvre in particularly dark situations like under rocks. Although highly similar to the peppermint shrimp in colour the camelback shrimp can be identified the the bump on their back. Thus their appropriate name.

We absolutely love our crustaceans, and the glass shrimp are no exception. Interestingly, although not visible in this shot the one pictured above is actually holding eggs. Our frog fish might not be living coral colour, but the backdrop of peach scenery gave us permission to add it in. These guys are simply fantastic to watch, typically "walking" on their front fins across sand.


Sharks & Skunkfish

The image of the grey nurse shark you see is actually pictured in Broughton Island, right of our very own shores of Port Stephens. You'll need a boat to see them, so we jumped on board with Feet First Dive and had a great time. Don't worry though, they might look menacing but are actually not aggressive at all. If you are lucky enough to see one in the wild they will come in for a look as they are curious creatures, definitely have your camera at the ready!

The second picture we have shown here is Nemo's less famous cousin, the skunk clownfish. There are around 30 different species of clown ranging in size and colour from really small and orange like Nemo to large and dark maroon. We LOVE the pale peach colour of this elegant little skunk clown fish, although its rather challenging to photograph them and they love to dark in their anemone when someone gets close.


Nelson Bay Nudibranchs

Pantone Nudibranch
Pantone Nudibranch

So no underwater image gallery would be complete without at least a few nudibranch shots. For anyone that knows us we are absolutely obsessed with these little brightly coloured creatures. With more than 3000 documented species there's no end to the interesting photos you can get. Both of these were taken while shore diving off Nelson Bay. The first photo is of two Ceratosoma Amoenum, we found these lovely creatures on the dive site Pipeline while taking part in the sea slug census. The one on the right was found on the "Fly Point" marine sanctuary and is a Phyllodesmium Poindimiei.


Spiny Lobster & Nudibranch


The spiny lobster is absolutely one of our fave little critters. with it's bright purple and long hairs it is such a sight! This fellow was almost impossible to get a shot of, wedged in a bout a 1cm gap between corals. And of course there's another nudibranch (Phyllidiella Pustulosa).


Lisa & Matt

Lisa McKenzie while diving
Matt Thorne while diving

We couldn't finish off the article without have a photo of each of us with our cameras! So for the technical minded, both of us have the same setup (though depicted in very different positions in the photos), which is;

  • Canon G7x Mk2 Compact Camera
  • Fantasea FG7X II Underwater Housing
  • 2 x Sysbiosis SS-02 Strobe with 2000 Lumens Combined Video Light
  • i-Das Dual handle Tray
  • 6" Float Arm
  • Inon UCL-165M67 Underwater Close-up 67mm Macro Lens

A big thanks to Ken from Macro Mode in taking the time to go through every option (and there were a lot) and finding a setup that really worked well for us.

So in the end, we love it that Pantone is trying to bring attention to the plight of the coral reef. It really does need protecting and there needs to be a global effort to make sure we don't loose our reef systems forever. They just executed it very badly, who knows, maybe the'll fix their error. I'm sure they could have asked any underwater vidoegrapher to share their footage and they would have been happy to do so.

Anyway, we hope that you've enjoyed our "Actual" Living Coral (and marine life) photos, maybe we'll see you underwater one day.

Matt & Lisa