Extraordinary Photos of Miniature Game Fish off Hawaii

Swordfish, marlin, mahi and more — like you’ve never seen them before

The abyssal ocean off Kona, Hawaii, is home to a wealth of game fish. No one knows that better than underwater photographer Jeff Milisen, who sees a world hidden from most die-hard anglers who spend their days plying the swells and watching their trolling spreads.

Milisen sees that world from below rather than above; in the inky blackness of dark nights; and by gazing not at the horizon but inches from his face.

Milisen specializes in black-water dives — sliding into the dark Pacific 5 miles out, in what he calls “Kona’s marlin superhighway. The experience,” Milisen adds, “is like something out of a sci-fi space movie, complete with a soupy mix of alien life forms.”


Among those alien forms are the big-game fish for which Kona is legend — marlin, swordfish, mahi and more. But not in the form most of us are used to seeing.

In this gallery, Milisen shares with SF fans some of his amazing macro shots of the larval fishes that drift in that “soupy mix,” pelagic predators ceaselessly hunting their next planktonic meal.

Larval swordfish
SWORDFISH Jeff Milisen
Underwater photo of mature swordfish
What the little fellow in the previous photo will look like if it survives to be an adult! Jeff Milisen
Larval marlin
MARLIN (species undetermined) Jeff Milisen
Underwater photo of a blue marlin
This mature blue marlin once looked like the tiny larvae in the preceding photo. Jeff Milisen
Larval wahoo
WAHOO Jeff Milisen
Larval mahi
MAHI (Dorado, Dolphinfish) Jeff Milisen
Larval yellowfin tuna
Larval grouper
GROUPER (species undetermined) Jeff Milisen
Larval flounder
FLOUNDER (Species undetermined) Jeff Milisen
Tiny squirrelfish
SQUIRRELFISH (Species undetermined) Jeff Milisen
Larval snake mackerel
Larval escolar
ESCOLAR Jeff Milisen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning underwater photographer Jeff Milisen is fascinated with the natural marine world. Since he receiving a degree in biology from the University of Hawaii Manoa, he has written articles and contributed photos to many books and magazines, including Sport Diver and Scuba Diving. Visit Milisen’s web site to see more of his amazing work.

Photographer Jeff Milisen
Jeff Milisen .
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