|Common Carp Underwater (C)Eric Engbretson|
Another trait not often discussed that I believe is a sign of extreme intelligence is curiosity. I use this curiosity to my advantage when trying to photograph carp. When a large carp sees a diver underwater, their first response is to leave the area. But I've found that if I stop moving and stay in one place, the same fish will return to have a closer look at what must seem to him to be a strange visitor in his underwater world.. I can only call this curiosity-a desire to get another look at this foreign creature and perhaps understand "what it is". It's this curiosity that brings the fish back to me where they will typically make a slow circle carefully studying me. Occasionally, a carp will be so curious, he will actually stop and study me at surprisingly close range. It's during this moment, while holding your breath that a picture or two can be obtained. It's a brief opportunity that doesn't happen often and it's rather difficult to pull off. Carp are extremely sensitive to the bubbles coming from a regulator, so holding your breath while remaining motionless long enough for the carp to move in close enough is critical.
I find it puzzling that in this country carp have such a bad reputation. In Europe, they are revered and held in high regard as the top sport fish. Perhaps European anglers have a better understanding and consequently a deserved appreciation of the unique qualities and intelligence of carp. After spending some time around them in their environment, watching how they swim, feed and react to my presence, it's hard not to feel that carp possess an understanding that transcends what we normally think fish are capable of.
To view more of my underwater carp photos, click here.