Regret is like an emotional phantom. It looms forgotten and unseen, passing through any obstacle to get to you. We all harbor these phantoms, which are hard enough to conceptualize, much less see. But take a look at this fish’s face—the summation of all regret.
Photographer Tim Samuel captured this capture while freediving in Byron Bay, Australia. This fish had veered too close to a jelly, and found itself in its belly, likely partially paralyzed by the stinging cells that line many jelly’s tentacles.
T R A P P E D – Woke up this morning to my phone going crazy due to one my photos being reposted by @discoverocean. Here’s another photo from that day. I found this fish trapped inside a Jellyfish while freediving in Byron Bay. He was trapped in there but controlled where the Jellyfish was moving. Prints are available through my website – link in bio
But the fish wasn’t dead (yet). According to Samuel, the fish could still “steer” the jelly even though it was about to undergo the process of digestion. Much like our own deluded attempts to course-correct while in the tentacles of life’s many miseries, this fish still thought that it can salvage what little autonomy it had left towards a better life.
Of course, the “expression” on the fish is an artifact. It’s not really disappointed or horrified or ashamed, just moving its mouth in a way that our emotion-attuned brains infer as emotion. However, if fish could think like we do, “Dear Poseidon I’ve made a terrible mistake,” would probably be pretty close what it would be contemplating. It’s something we can all relate to.
Or it’s just a fish in a jelly belly. Our own Sarah Keartes suggests that the fish — part of a species that is known to use jellies for cover — may be in fact hiding in a recently deceased jelly.
Images: Used with permission from Tim Samuel