Set against the stark backdrops attainable only during blackwater dives, larval fish become strange, otherworldly specimens with glasslike bodies and translucent fins that billow outward. Their delicate, still-developing anatomies are the subjects of Steven Kovacs’s underwater photos, which frame the young creatures at such precarious stages of life.
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Living in Palm Beach, Kovacs (previously) frequents the waters off the Florida coasts, although he’s also recently explored areas near Kona, Hawaii. Expeditions have brought encounters with both the elusive acanthonus armatu and a type of larval ipnopidae that hasn’t been documented previously. “Of course, we are always hoping to run across a never-before-seen species like the discoverichthys praecox,” he says. “To be the first to ever find and photograph a species in the wild is an absolute thrill.”