I started my year diving with the famous white sharks of South Australia with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. This was not only a dream-come-true opportunity for a shark lover to experience these animals from a unique perspective, but an amazing chance to learn the latest in white shark science, and the importance of protecting these evolutionarily perfect apex predators.
Great white shark at Neptune Islands, South Australia - Photo by Maya Santangelo
Have you ever had a moment that makes you feel tiny, humble, and full of gratitude? This was one of those moments. Sometimes it's nice to put down the camera and just take it all in. The underwater world certainly never ceases to amaze.
Black-morph Oceanic Manta Ray at Santa Maria, Azores Islands - Photo by Danny Copeland
The age-old "knowledge is power" is overwhelmingly applicable to conservation. The more we know about something, the better we can act to manage and protect it. The whaleshark may be the largest fish in the ocean, but there remains so much unknown about their life history and ecology. After overcoming the excitement of seeing my first whaleshark in Mozambique, I snapped a photo of its unique spot pattern to share with Marine Megafauna Foundation and contribute to our understanding of their populations! Have you ever seen a whaleshark? Share your photos to help researchers learn more about them!
Whaleshark at Tofo, Mozambique - Photo by Maya Santangelo
People protect what they care about, and they care about what they understand. So how do you encourage people to protect something they know very little about? For animals as charismatic and magical as mobula rays, a photo or video can only do so much. By using virtual reality, we had a unique opportunity to immerse voting CITES delegates amongst a school (squadron) of mobulas. This was easily one of the most eye opening experiences of my year. It wasn't just about diving with amazing animals, working alongside talented and inspiring individuals, and assisting in a really special production... it was the opportunity to bring conservation to life to make a difference. I feel so humbled and proud to have been part of this goal!