Greetings from The End of The World
Introducing Ákos Lumnitzer, Discoverer of Sydney’s Pygmy Pipehorse (Seadragon)
I watched a documentary many years ago about one of the sweetest, most intriguing creatures: the seadragon. I was so smitten by this little seahorse-like fish that lives under Sydney Harbor’s sunny waters, that I immediately began a search of the world-wide web looking for more photographs. That’s how I learned about Ákos Lumnitzer, who had left his homeland as a thirteen year old kid to live in Australia at the bottom of the earth. His photos have travelled the world and this little seahorse bears his name as an honor to the discovery. Ákos Lumnitzer moved away from the sea about many years ago and has since rediscovered his passion for birds and is also a volunteer wildlife rescuer.− Tell me about your childhood. How did you discover your love for animals and for nature?
− Thank God I can remember my younger days. My late mother taught me to read well before I reached school age so I was immediately captivated by reading books of all kinds. I was particularly interested in reading books by István Fekete, who wrote mainly for children and my favourite books of his were of a young boy who visits his uncle near Lake Balaton and learns to fend for himself. They used to have a pocket sized book collection for kids that covered a variety of subjects from marine life to gem stones and clouds and so on, which I read many times over. I also loved watching documentaries. One well known Hungarian wildlife film maker (István Homoki Nagy) who was also dubbed the Hungarian David Attenborough, had many nature films that were of great interest to me.
Captain Cousteau was also quite influential as I always loved the water and had an ever growing interest in seeing what lies under the surface. When I was on vacation, I would always study the natural world around me; whether a wildflower or even butterflies sitting on cow droppings. As much as a kid could study, I was at it all the time. I think all these interests helped me greatly develop my love for the natural world around us. As well, I was always compassionate and wanted to adopt every stray cat I could find. Of course, living in a rented flat, owning a dog was out of the question.
− How did you discover the seahorse that many didn’t see before? Why did you become an underwater photographer?
Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques). Illustration.
− I’ve always loved the water, whether playing water polo or swimming in a lake or the ocean, I was a natural water baby. Scuba diving became a natural stepping stone to consummate my affection for the aquatic world. In the beginning, a fellow Hungarian encouraged me to take up spearfishing as a sport, and while it was fun, I soon realized that it was far more interesting to observe and learn about the fishes than it was to eat them.
I officially learned to scuba dive in the winter of 1995, with a broken nose too, and I was not surprised that I knew more about fish species in general than even my diving instructor. It didn’t take me long to buy my first of many Nikon cameras, which is a very difficult system to master. You need to be able to judge the distance between you and the subject so I wasted a lot of film to get shots right. What drew me into the photography even more was that I found so many strange animals that I just had to get to know. What better way than to record on film and learn about them from the photos on dry land?
I actually discovered the pipehorse by accident as I was returning to my favourite dive site to photograph a nudibranch that I saw a few days earlier curled around its egg deposit, waiting for them to hatch.
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