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Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

By Nguyen Dong   February 3, 2022 | 12:00 am PT
Photographer Dao Dang Cong Trung has spent years capturing rare images of coral reefs and sea creatures while also collecting trash from the seafloor.
Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

The 42-year-old Hoi An native, who works at a resort on Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang, is capable of diving to depths of 10-12m and holding his breath for two minutes. He has taken many underwater photos in the sea off Da Nang, mostly around Son Tra. Photo by Kim Thu

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Over 100 coral species are found around the peninsula.

Trung began taking underwater photos around five years ago. Every time he dives, he also collects trash from the seafloor and frees corals from nets, he says.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A starfish latches on to a coral reef at around 10m depth.

Trung says there are a lot of corals around Son Tra, but the reefs near the Bai Nam area, close to shore, is vulnerable to people accidentally damaging them while sightseeing. Damaged reefs could take years to return to their original state.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A reef develops over hundreds of years with individual sections spanning 3-4 meters.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A jellyfish, whose tentacles are four meters long, floats in the water. Their sting is especially venomous and causes an intense burning sensation. They are also bio-luminescent.

"To take photos of jellyfish you need to approach them head-on and not chase after them. Their tentacles could injure you otherwise."

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A sea fan coral photographed by Trung was recognized by the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute as the first of its kind identified in the waters around Son Tra.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Red coral found at 12-15m depth.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Poisonous anemone often harbor certain creatures like the clownfish.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Many fishes feed in coral reefs.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A photo of a feather duster worm taken by Trung. He says they are hard to photograph as they tend to retract when something comes close.

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

A photo of the feather star, which Trung says is the hardest to photograph since they tend to flee when something approaches them. As Trung can only hold his breath for around two minutes, the small window of time only allowed him to take two photos of the creature.

"There are many other interesting sights and creatures under the sea, but due to a lack of equipment, I have had to give them up. I have never taken photos of species like sea eels and snakes."

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Trung has been collecting trash from the sea for several years. Every time he dives, he can bring 10 kg of things like bottles and nets to the surface.

"By telling the stories of collecting trash and taking photos of corals and the beauty of sea creatures, I want to spread the message of environmental protection."

Da Nang photographer freedives to capture ocean’s beauty

Trung showcases his photo book ‘Kham pha dai duong’ (Ocean discoveries). He won the first prize in a photo contest on the environment and biodiversity in Da Nang in 2020 for his ‘Nguoi luom rac’ (The trash collector).

Nguyen Quang, a member of the Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists, says taking photos under the sea is difficult since it requires diving equipment and knowledge of the sea and its creatures.

"Trung's entries in the contest in the last two years have brought a breath of fresh air to the photography art in Da Nang."

He captures the coral reefs and sea creatures, which not many people have done before, Quang adds.

 
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