National Geographic Photographer // Storyteller // Marine Biologist//
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Waved albatrosses appear as mirror images of one another on Española in the Galápagos—a World Heritage Site since 1979. In a choreographed mating ritual, these goose-sized sea birds use their beaks to repeatedly gape, point and fence. Photographing critically endangered animals like the waved albatross is both a privilege and a burden. As a photographer, how can I best capture the beauty and wonder of an animal in a way that takes people’s breath away? How can I create images that foster awareness and appreciation, which ultimately leads to conservation action?
A humpback whale on the verge of a dive in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. The attached barnacles create an ephemeral waterfall from the whale’s fluke. These tiny freeloaders can collectively add around 1,000 extra pounds to the whales. However, for these 45-ton giants, it’s no big deal. The spot along British Columbia’s “nook & cranny” coast is a magnet for humpback whales, fin whales and orcas. First Nations peoples and other conservation organizations have negotiated with the government for decades to conserve this special place. While 15% of the Great Bear Rainforest forest is sustainably managed for logging, the remaining 85% is protected, giving everything from humpbacks to barnacles safe harbor. @pacificwild#GreatBearRainforest#Canada#BritishColumbia#whales
A floating mass of tens of thousands of squid eggs pushed by the current into a lagoon of Bassas da India. This tiny French atoll, with a landmass smaller than The Mall in Washington DC, is halfway between Mozambique and Madagascar. In a place that has become a ship graveyard, I found it incredible to come across such a fragile, yet intact mobile incubator. #squid
A female Steller sea lion speaks her mind to a bull. Stellers or northern sea lions are the largest species of sea lion. Males are roughly three times the size of females, weighing in at around 544 kg (1,200 lb). This image was shot in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. The 21 million acre hub of biodiversity is part of the last remaining coastal temperate rainforest on Earth.
A sea lion and a marine iguana call it a day as the last boat of tourists disembarks from the island of Española in the Galápagos. Located in the southeastern corner, Española is a jewel of biodiversity. Its rocky shores and reefs are the perfect habitat for marine iguanas, sea lions and sea turtles. Currently studies are being done on the effects of climate change and human impact on the resilience of biodiversity in the Galápagos. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on climate change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark@ecuadortravel and @lindbladexp #Galapagos#ClimateChange
Marine Iguanas can dive to depths of 30 feet (10m) and hold their breath for up to 30 minutes. These iconic reptiles are only able to spend a few hours a day in the ocean grazing algae for sustenance. In the Galápagos the water is simply too cold for longer underwater excursions by a cold blooded reptile. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on climate change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark#allyouneedisecuador
A rocky pinnacle punctures the North Pacific Ocean just offshore from Triangle Island. The largest of the Scott Island group, it is situated 39 miles off the tip of Canada's Vancouver Island. Triangle hosts critically important populations of seabirds and sea lions and has been designated the centerpiece of the proposed Scott Island Marine Protected Area. Photograph shot in collaboration with @pacificwild a key conservation role player in the fight to keep British Columbia's oceans healthy. Follow @pacificwild to find out how YOU can help.
A green turtle rests underwater in the shadow of a mangrove tree. Convoluted bays and inlets penetrate deep into the harsh lava landscape of some of the most westerly Galápagos Islands. Many of these hidden realms are sanctuaries for sea turtles which probably seek them out due to the water being warmer than the adjacent ocean. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on Climate Change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark@pelayosalinas and @ecuadortravel#allyouneedisecuador
Charles Darwin called marine iguanas 'Imps of Darkness' and was not a fan. He also referred to them 'disgusting and clumsy' lizards. I think he was wrong and I became completely smitten with these underwater algae munching Godzilla impersonators. They quickly became my favorite underwater photo subject. Dependent on cold water marine algae, increases in sea temperature have detrimental effects on marine iguana populations. If temperatures continuo to warm these Galapagos icons could become the first to disappear. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on Climate Change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark@pelayosalinas and @ecuadortravel#allyouneedisecuador#conservation#climatechange#ocean
A shiver of scalloped hammerhead sharks swims off Darwin Island in the Galápagos. They are looking for a cleaning station along this rocky ridge where reef fish pick parasites and remove diseased skin (see white patches in this photograph) from these sharks. @saveourseasfoundation funded shark scientist Dr. Pelayo Salinas studies how water temperatures effect Galapagos shark populations and has observed that after prolonged hot periods skin infections and parasite loads seem more prominent. On our warming planet this could result in further pressures on these endangered sharks. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on Climate Change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark and @ecuadortravel#allyouneedisecuador To gain further insights into the sharks of Galapagos please follow marine scientist @pelayosalinas
A large green turtle and a marine iguana are carried along the rocky reef by a strong submarine current. Both species feed on algae, but while the turtle can forage all day long, the iguana's seaweed feast is time limited. Despite being spread across the equator, the ocean off the Galápagos Islands can be incredibly cold. Marine iguanas only last an hour or two in the before they have to return to land to rewarm themselves. If they stay in the ocean too long they become sluggish and risk death. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on Climate Change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound#galapagosnationalpark@pelayosalinas and @ecuadortravel Please follow them for more images and information about the Galápagos Islands. #allyouneedisecuador
My photograph of a pod of pelagic dolphins traversing an offshore gas field is one of the most poignant climate change images I have taken. The juxtaposition of marine biodiversity and industry on the high seas encapsulates the dangers of climate change on our marine ecosystems.
While natural gas is cleaner burning than coal, predicted CO2 emissions will still remain too high to prevent ocean acidification, sea level rise, disruption of upwelling currents and generally warmer seawater temperatures. All of which can negatively impact on the health and ecology of ocean wildlife.
Only by embracing renewable energy sources (solar, wind, tides, waves, geothermal) will we be able to ensure that our oceans remain healthy and thus in turn continue to sustain humanity on our blue planet.
For the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour, I’m joining the #MakeClimateMatter online community. Earth Hour is the world’s biggest movement for action on climate change. Sign up to take part on 25th March at 8.30pm at wwf.org.uk/earthhour
Humpback whales bubble-net feed on herring around Gill Island in Canada's Great Bear Rainforest. Situated deep in the heart of Gitga'at First Nations territory, this marine realm is one of the most critical whale habitats in North America. #canada#whales#greatbearrainforest#cetacealab@pacificwild
African Black Oystercatchers breed during the height of South Africa’s summer. They lay their eggs in a shallow scrape in the sand or on bare rocks, making them vulnerable to human disturbance. A 4x4 off-road beach-driving ban in 2002 has alleviated much of the stress on the oystercatcher populations. The waiting game for this photograph lasted hours until the tide was just right. This pair arrived to feed on the wave washed rocks just as I was on the verge of giving up. Malgas Island, West Coast National Park, South Africa. #wowsouthafrica
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There are few places on this planet where dramatic waterfalls pour directly into the ocean. Waterfall Bluff on the Wild Coast of South Africa is one of them. During the rainy season strands of rivers on the coastal platform braid together and race towards the Indian Ocean. Whether you hike to the base of the falls or opt for an aerial experience, this natural wonder is a reminder of the importance of protected areas. Waterfall Bluff, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape, South Africa. #wowsouthafrica
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Every winter southern right whales arrive along the South African coast to mate and give birth. The De Hoop Marine Reserve is the most important southern right whale sanctuary in Africa and is a real highlight to visit. Up to 350 whales have been known to frequent this protected area at any one time. To get this shot I joined nature conservation officials in a small helicopter to survey marine wildlife from the air. De Hoop Marine Protected Area, Western Cape, South Africa #wowsouthafrica
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Photograph by @thomaspeschak A curious African Penguin inspects my camera as I lie as motionless as possible near the summit of Mercury Island. This isolated outpost off Namibia's desert coast is a hotspot for seabirds and the centerpiece of the Namib Islands Marine Protected Area. @natgeo@natgeocreative@thomaspeschak
Twenty five miles offshore from South Africa's Cape Point lies the Canyon, a deep water feature that reliable draws tuna, sharks and seabirds. Long-finned Pilot whales are a rarer sight and I have only encountered them there twice in 15 years. The seabed around the canyon is probably rich in squid, which makes up more 80% of these whale's diet. Despite being called whales, they are actually one of the largest members of the dolphin family. We don't know much about this pelagic deep water habitat and protective measures are minimal. However in the face of the ever increasing global footprint of offshore mining we need to remedy these marine conservation deficits urgently. @natgeo@natgeocreative
A dusky shark punches through a baitball of sardines, hoping that some fish break rank and become easier to catch. This photograph is for fellow shark conservationist and photographer Rob Stewart @teamsharkwater who is still missing at sea after a deep dive in the Florida Keys searching for critically endangered sawfish. Anybody with access to boats, helicopters, airplanes in the Keys or who wants to help fund the search efforts should follow the link below my bio.
SHARK NIGHT These young Galapagos sharks were already super abundant during the day, but I had a hunch they would be even more prolific after dark. Sliding into the inky depths of Bassas da India's lagoon in the middle of the night was a surreal experience. A cinematic movie light, hung off a long aluminum pole (formerly the handle of a swimming pool strainer) and now imaginatively rigged to a sputtering generator on our small rubber boat, provided the only illumination. For hours I photographed countless of these sharks waltz in and out of the light. To fit the Instagram format this picture shows two individual vertical frames, shot minutes apart, side by side. Coverage from my @natgeo magazine story A Tale of Two Atoll's. #taaf#mozambiquechannel#sharks@thephotosociety@natgeocreative
Back at home, hanging with Hugo, Blue, Luna and Sunnye. Some years I am away on assignment shooting for more than 250 days, so time at my studio in a small mountain village, a few hours outside of Cape Town is always precious. @natgeo@natgeocreative@thephotosociety
This gigantic constantly shape shifting school of jacks/trevally inhabits the rich waters of Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve. The dorsal fins of the uppermost fish break the oceans surface while deepest fish scrape their bellies on the sandy seabed 20 m below. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a forthcoming story on Baja California Marine Reserves. In partnership with @maresmexicanos#mexico#cabopulmo#baja#conservation@thephotosociety@natgeocreative
Long beaked common Dolphins race through a baitball of sardines. Every June/July more than 20,000 of these Dolphins leave their offshore squid hunting grounds and follow migrating shoals of sardines northwards along South Africa's East coast. For these two months the diet of these Dolphins becomes dominated by sardines. #sardinerun#southafrica@natgeo@thephotosociety@natgeocreative
A whale shark swims right below the surface seeking a plankton meal at dusk. In the Gulf of Tadjoura off the coast of the small African nation of Djibouti sub- adult whale sharks gather every winter to feast on prolific plankton blooms. Unpublished photograph from my @natgeo magazine story Seas of Arabia. #whaleshark#djibouti@saveourseasfoundation@natgeocreative
A large female great white shark swims at the surface with Mexico's Guadalupe Island as a backdrop. The scarring around her gills was probably the result of mating, during which the male shark holds onto the female with his teeth......Photographic out-take from my forthcoming @natgeo magazine story on successful marine conservation initiatives in Mexico. @thephotosociety@natgeocreative@maresmexicanos
When plankton concentrations are patchy, manta rays are solo feeders. To guard against loosing their food patch they somersault in place, often for many minutes at a time, not unlike a puppy chasing its own tail. @mantatrust@fonassociation
A whale shark travels through the seas off La Paz, Mexico. Whale shark numbers normally peak in this part of the Sea of Cortez when the ocean is green, murky and rough. In 2015 however unusual climatic and oceanographic conditions resulted in ultra calm and clear water, making this unusual picture possible. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine. Outtake from our forthcoming NGM story on marine conservation in Pacific Mexico. In collaboration with the Mexican conservation NGOs @maresmexicanos and @whalesharkmexico
Galapagos sharks are one of the most "interactive" sharks I have worked with. They are bold, curious and certainly not camera shy. Galapagos sharks don't only occur in the Galápagos Islands, in fact I made this photograph at Bassas da India a French atoll in the western Indian Ocean. Unpublished photograph from my @natgeo magazine story on Mozambique Channel Atolls. @saveourseasfoundation@natgeocreative@thephotosociety
During my first visit to Djibouti, a small African nation sandwiched between Somalia and Eritrea, I heard from local fishermen that whale sharks sometimes surround their boats at night. I had high expectations venturing into their fishing grounds underwater for the first time, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer magic of whale sharks drifting in and out of the light. I free dived for hours in this dark nocturnal sea and the sharks were like large ships unexpectedly appearing out a fog. Unpublished photograph from my @natgeo magazine story Seas of Arabia. @saveourseasfoundation@natgeocreative
My field assistant Steve Benjamin @animal_ocean relaxes ( on a single breath) on the seabed at 70 foot as a giant school of jacks swirls in the water column above. Cabo Pulmo along Mexico's Baja Peninsula is considered to be the most successful marine reserve in the world and has experienced a unparalleled recovery of fish. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a upcoming story on marine conservation in #Mexico where I was working in collaboration with the Conservation NGO @maresmexicanos#cabopulmo#baja@natgeocreative
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A great white shark is nearly camouflaged by a curtain of baitfish. There were days when these schools of fish were so dense that I often only spotted the sharks when they were a few meters away. Working from a submerged cage is critical in such conditions. Photograph from my coverage for a upcoming @natgeo magazine story on marine conservation in pacific Mexico. In collaboration with @maresmexicanos