Fish killed by flash photography – THIS is why flash isn't allowed at aquariums

Fish dies as a result of flash photography
(Image credit: Reddit user 29PiecesOfSilver / )

The seemingly trivial 'no flash photography' rules that we often see at tourist attractions and museums aren't so trivial after all, and should never be ignored or flouted – especially at an aquarium full of adorable aquatic creatures. 

A shocking video has been shared online that depicts multiple flashes being set off at a crowded aquarium, and resulting in the death of a fish that comes hurtling into frame at a sharp speed and hitting the glass at full velocity, resulting in a sea of blood (pardon the pun). 

These are the best underwater fishing cameras (opens in new tab)

The poor tuna fish had been startled and confused by multiple flashes used by tourists visiting the aquarium, and unfortunately resulted in the self-inflicted death of the sea creature. As reported by (opens in new tab) Pool Magazine, the aquarium tank uses acrylic material that is highly reflective – and therefore affects the animals on the other side of the glass by confusing or agitating them. 

Footage captured at the time of the event shows several strong flashes of light against the glass (we counted at least seven, watching it back), suggesting that this was not a case of a visitor accidentally leaving their phone flash settings on auto, but that these tourists were either unaware of the flash photography rules or simply did not care enough to abide by them.

It seems like as a species we really are declaring war on marine life, and it's not just plastic in the ocean that these poor aquatic animals have to worry about anymore. The incident can be seen at about 20 seconds into the video, which was shared to Reddit (opens in new tab) just 2 days ago, and posted on the r/Wellthatsucks channel. You can view this below: 

tuna_fish_tried_to_break_on_through_to_the_other from r/Wellthatsucks

Watch video: Flash photography kills fish

The camera / smartphone flashes are said to resemble reflective light bouncing off of the water and waves to the fish, and can even confuse them into thinking the light is prey, prompting them to try and swim towards it – and colliding with the glass casing of the aquarium tanks instead. The speed of the fish in the video is pretty phenomenal, and also concerning; it is interesting to wonder what the fish thought it was heading towards at such a powerful and rapid velocity.   

Speculation from Reddit users discussing the thread suggests that the aquarium in question could be at three possible locations: either the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Aquarium, or some users are pretty adamant that it may be the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan (due to the presence of whale sharks).

So let this be a warning: if you see a 'no flash photography' sign, please don't ignore it. It is there for a reason.

You may also be interested in the best waterproof camera (opens in new tab), as well as the best underwater housings for cameras and phones (opens in new tab), plus there's also the best underwater drones (opens in new tab), and the best waterproof phones (opens in new tab) to use for your marine photography needs. 

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.