LONDON, U.K. — In the 1950s, when it was first introduced to the world, the walleyes were known for their striking patterns and sleek, white bodies.
The world has changed a great deal since then, but a couple of years ago, photographer James MacLeod was on a yacht in the Bahamas when he noticed the pattern of the fish’s eyes — and, for a moment, the look he was hoping to capture.
“I’d been watching the waves, and it was quite beautiful,” MacLeod told The Associated Press.
“The water was calm, the sun was shining and the fish seemed to be swimming along the bottom.”
It wasn’t long before he decided to shoot a series of bikini-drenched shots of the animals, which have since become popular as beachgoers dress up and take selfies in front of the ocean’s surface.
The photos have since gone viral.
MacLeod says he wants to show the beauty of nature, and the human-caused impact of the environment on animals.
“It’s so much more important than people are aware of,” he said.
“When I photograph them in the water, I want to show that the animals are alive.
The only time we can be aware of the impact is if we go out into the water.”
The walleys have a name for the ocean — it’s a name that has a long and complicated history.
Some say they’re a result of a curse — a curse that is still around.
Others think it’s an accident.
It is unknown if the walleys’ pattern was made by nature or humans, but they do have the ability to change their color depending on the ocean and the tides.
The creatures’ colors are also determined by where they live, how much sun they get and how much water they have access to.
In some places, like the Bahamas, the animals’ patterns are determined by the amount of sunlight that comes through.
In others, the patterns are a result more of human activity.
“We all live in a constant state of change,” said John Watson, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Western Australia who studies the behaviour of the walries.
“Whether it’s because the sea is changing, the sea level is rising, there are more people or more of the natural world being taken out of the context, or we’re not seeing the beauty and the diversity of the oceans that we used to see, the changes have had an effect.”
Watson said the walry patterns can change as quickly as a few days.
“They’re very difficult to change,” he told The AP.
“What you need to do is to look at the patterns themselves.”
The patterns of the sea creatures are not the only one that can change — the animals also have their own patterns.
Some of the animal species have evolved to swim in specific areas and change their patterns based on their surroundings.
“In some areas of the world you can see them change the pattern on their feet, and some of them change their pattern on the head,” Watson said.
The animals have also evolved a unique way of detecting other animals and people.
In areas where there is less sun, for example, the species will look more closely at the reflections off the water surface.
It can take up to a few weeks for the animals to adjust to that new pattern.
“One of the reasons that they can do that is because they are very sensitive to changes in temperature,” Watson told the AP.
He said the changes could be seen from just a few metres away.
He thinks the animals may be able to use their special sense of hearing to find and identify prey.
Watson said there is a lot of debate about whether humans cause the animals changes in patterns, but he said there’s little evidence that humans cause these changes in any way.
“Our understanding of how these animals respond to the environment is limited, and that’s why we don’t know whether there’s a relationship between climate change and the change in the animals behavior,” he explained.
“But we do know that the environment has an effect on how the animals behave.”
The research is published in the journal ZooKeys.