New York Times Portraits of Grief

James Sands Jr.




The four-foot-long grouper was guarding her baby as James Sands Jr. and his wife, Jennifer, swam by in their scuba- diving suits earlier this year, 75 feet below the surface of the Caribbean Sea at Grand Cayman. It was a tense moment, both for the grouper and for Mr. Sands, a budding underwater photographer. The mother fish gave what is known as a grouper shimmy, and the Sandses took their leave, but not before Mr. Sands captured the rare moment on film.

The picture joined a gallery of his work that included a close-up of a barracuda and a portrait of a moray eel baring its teeth.

Mr. Sands, 38, spent most days well above sea level on the 103rd floor of 1 World Trade Center, where he worked as a software engineer for eSpeed . But he was happiest underwater.

The Sandses lived blocks from each other most of their lives but didn't meet until a dating service set them up on a blind date in 1995. They began diving about three years ago, and Mr. Sands had only recently discovered his flair for photographing fish. "They basically just posed for him; it was amazing to watch," Mrs. Sands said.