Roughly 15 minutes into our dive we spotted her off in the distance. A huge shadow gliding slowly at the crest the surface. No signs of aggression, but rather curiosity— making her way towards us and acknowledging our presence. Each one of us. I bet she could sense every heart beat. Mine especially. So back and forth she went. Slow and subtle turns communicating boldness and confidence. Under us and around us, making a dozen passes and at times getting closer than I’d ever imagined. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared. Really scared. After I gathered myself I began to silence those fears and join her from a bit closer, trying our best not to disturb, and her reading her body language to read what she is communicating. It's good to feel small sometimes. Here is @juansharks in the position he has mastered as I trailed from behind: Face to face with 13ft Tiger Shark. This is her home. Honored that she allowed us to share it with her. @oneoceandiving
I love the bright and vibrant colors, but sometimes colors can distract us. I like to remove them from certain images to reveal more of the contrast, especially the detailed array of the complex patterns of a Tiger Shark. These patterns are found most dominant in juveniles. These vertical lines are thought to help them to camouflage and blend in with the light reflections especially at shallow depths. They slowly fade with age.
I had the privilege of traveling to Tonga this past fall to see the migrating humpback whales alongside @darrenjew--who has been a huge influence as an inspiring photographer. Pictured here is a newborn calf finding a place of rest atop an endearing mum an estimated 15miles off the coast of Vava'u-Toga. This interaction was so incredible that I had to put the #camera down and take in every last second with my shallow breaths and salty eyes, because some moments are best spent without a camera--only to be remembered by the feelings they have instilled. Ones never to be forgotten. Thankfully @dolphinpacific was by my side to capture this.
Exchanging eye contact with this ‘little one’ carried with it an array of emotion. Shortly after we watch her swift turns, half breaches, and occasional brief visits to mom as she rested below with a gentle nudge of her nose. It amazes me how much nature is able to inspire us without the need for big screens, fancy words, or bright lights. Just eye contact—a grand gesture it can be.
“You and me, we will glide this open sea." I treaded water and I watched as this mamma #humpback swiftly glided below her calf making a quick pass by while being followed by a large male escort. It’s incredible to witness the commitment and sacrifice the #humpbackwhales offer in caring for their young, giving everything she has during the 11-12 month gestational period, providing 50 to 100 gallons of milk per day, and offering a place of rest and protection among other things. I captured this image back in September off the captivating island of #vavau #tonga, a place so special you have to visit!
I got to spend some time in #tahiti this past fall on captivating island of #moorea exploring the coast by boat and kayak. It showed me what #hawaii could have been like 100 years ago. I spent my final sunset with the beautiful Blacktip Sharks submersed in the most crystal clear waters that I've ever seen, and with a background that inspiration grows from. Embedded on the horizon--a peaceful goodbye from the tahitian sun. A setting that I wish listed a little while longer. My patience and stillness was definitely tested to capture this image. I think one of the most rewarding aspect of photographing nature is our lack of control, regardless of how frustrating as that can be. Sometimes we have to just sit, wait, and let moments happen when they want to. Because when they do, it makes it all the more special.
If #sharks could speak I wonder what they would say about us. I'm curious of how they would explain some of their mistakes and defend themselves if they ever read the headlines or seen the TV shows or movies. I wonder how they would describe the ways they are treated in various parts of the #world, or explain how much work they put forth to help maintain a healthy ecosystem everyday. There are always 2 sides to every story, but often all that we read is of one side.
Even though they take up just 5% of their structure, their fins are what keeps them alive, because #sharks need to continuously move to force water through their gills for oxygen, their fins allow this to happen helping them to navigate and stabilize. What's happening is that their fins are being sliced off while they are still alive, and the rest of the body is thrown back into the #ocean. With no regenerative properties, sometimes taking days, they slowly suffocate and die. Tens of millions of sharks are slaughtered every year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup—tasteless cartilage with some of the highest levels of mercury and other dangerous toxins found in fish. I think that should tell us that they are not to be eaten. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building – total collapse. Right here is where the fins belong.
"A long journey has brought us here. This ocean is so big. Mom has a good eye on me and all I want to do is play. Here, watch what I can do now. Pretty cool huh?! Soon I’ll be ready to breach. Can’t wait for that. Thanks for being nice to us. Nice meeting you. Hope to see you around” -A young calf off the coast of #Vavau-#Tonga
Challenging the distorted truth in the open #ocean--an introduction to the apex predators in the best way possible. Sharks are a critical component in an ecosystem that provides 1/3 of our world with food, produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s manmade carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), and controls our planet’s temperature and weather. Eliminating the apex predators changes everything. A close encounter in the most raw way: No cage. No tanks. Just fins, a mask, and the most solid crew @oneoceandiving.
Their lives are so well hidden, escaping to the depths of the vast oceans. They expose just enough of themselves to create a sense of mystery about them. But the brief moments are just enough--overwhelemed with lost words, shallow breaths, and teary eyes. Knowing that we want to see more, off they go with their fins swinging wide.
A fingerprint of the tides displayed so perfectly on the #ocean floor. A setting that may no longer last -According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014– that’s 315 bottles per person. -Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute with an the average “working life” of 15 minutes. -More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year and it’s estimated that plastic takes 400 years to degrade. A simple yet powerful quote: “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”@sylviaearle
Thank you @keiko_conservation for allowing me to take over your account to share some of my most inspiring moments in this beautiful ocean--the largest stage, and one to be honored and respected by being good stewards of all that it contains.