Southern Right Whales: South Africa

January 22, 2015

Walker Bay, South Africa

Walker Bay, South Africa

A severe storm was approaching the small, seaside town of Hermanus, South Africa as I hopped onto a boat in the picturesque harbor of Walker Bay. Knowing the best chance of seeing a Southern Right Whale up-close would be by boat I really did not have much choice in the matter (despite my apprehension). And besides with the weather quickly deteriorating, I was rather certain there wouldn’t be any more whale watching for the remainder of my trip. Considering this was the reason I made my way to Hermanus from Cape Town (2 hrs), I mustered the courage and braced myself for a rocky ride as we headed out into the bay.

Fortunately, the ocean was kind to us for a good chunk of the time and I was lucky to see two males trying to win the heart of this beautiful female (below). This was by far the closest I came to any of the whales as she intentionally collided with the boat directly in front of me. With a thin metal bar as the only barrier separating me from the sea, the impact startled me! Everyone on board scrambled for a moment while we were reassured by the crew that this is quite common behavior for the females. It seems as though they enjoy using the boat as a form of protection from their relentless admirers.Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

These whales are very slow moving and friendly creatures. As a result, they became known to fisherman as the “right whale” to hunt. Even though whale hunting has been banned for the past two decades, illegal hunting still continues making the southern right whale population of 3,000 an endangered species. Hermanus is a unique location in that females prefer the warmth and shelter of the bay for their newborns. And between the months of May and December with a little patience you will have no problem spotting them from shore. Despite the land-based possibilities, I wanted to get a little closer. And if you find yourself in a similar situation definitely check out: Southern Right Charters for a proper outing.

Southern Right Whale

Unlike my previous whale watching trip in Sydney, Australia; there were many close encounters and photographic opportunities of the whales in Walker Bay. Prior to my arrival, I had heard consistently from several people to go with the widest lens I had available. Thanks to this sound advice, I had my16-35mm in place for this shot. This photograph was shot at the widest end, 16mm and would not have been possible with my longer lenses. Although, there were many shots missed (and frustrations) as a result of my lens’ limitations I am content with the decision.

Hermanus, South Africa

Storm clouds rolling in to Hermanus, South Africa

Outdoor Photog of the Year Competition

January 14, 2015

Having had seven images (below) chosen as finalists for the Outdoor Photographer of the year 2014 competition was a wonderful honour. Each of my images were submitted to the UnderExposed category which happened to be a new category added just this year, strictly for underwater images. The winning image was a stunning over-under shot of a humpback whale by Chris Parry. I hope to have the privilege of diving and photographing humpbacks in 2015.

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Beneath the Waves | the Year Ahead

December 15, 2014

For the first time, I have put together a calendar with some of my underwater images. With twenty-fifteen around the corner I thought now is as good a time as ever to share this. The images included in the calendar were taken in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean and consist of wide variety of marine life. The calendar is available for purchase at RedBubble.com.  May the year ahead be full of health and happiness (and, of course some scuba diving ;o)!

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Description of Images:

January: Saltwater Crocodile
February: Juvenile Green Sea Turtle
March: Jellyfish Lake
April: Purple Sea Fan
May: Trumpetfish
June: Reef Scene
July: Lobster
August: School of Silky Sharks
September: School of Fish
October: Golden Jellyfish
November: Octopus
December: Chambered Nautilus

Holiday Blues

December 7, 2014

A couple of years back I had the opportunity to join a group of divers from Singapore on an adventure to Thailand. It was the week of Christmas 2012 when we set sail for the Similan Islands, via liveaboard. Let me just say, sinking beneath the waves on Christmas day was certainly one of the coolest gifts this diver could conjure up.
Seal Ornament
But generally, not a whole lot of diving takes place at this time of year if you happen to be one of the many who live in a landlocked location. Traveling at this time of year (for whatever reason) isn’t practical. The cost of flights become ridiculous, the airport congestion is a nightmare, and of course, there are those festive holiday parties you don’t want to miss. For those that do have a chance to get in the water and dive in December, I envy your persistence.

While in recent years we have remained at home for the holidays, I have tried to come up with ways to keep the ocean nearby. If you are like me and going through diving withdrawal here are a few ideas to lift your spirits.

Marine Inspired Christmas Ornaments:Sea Turtle Ornament

Taking a virtual holiday with an ocean documentary or watching the hilarious comedy The Life Aquatic:

Whale Shark Ornament

Watching “The 12 Sharks of Christmas” by Julie Ouimet of N2 Pix:
The 12 Sharks of Christmas from Julie Ouimet – N2 Pix on Vimeo.

The 12 Sharks of Christmas from Julie Ouimet – N2 Pix on Vimeo.

And don’t forget the Christmas cookies! I found these adorable crab cookies over at: Sweet Sugar Belle and I must admit these little guys are on the agenda this holiday season. They work well with the red and green Christmas theme. Perhaps a sea turtle will suffice for the colour green?!

Crab-Cookies

Photo Credit: SweetSugarBelle.com

Inspiring Preservation of the Arctic with Arts & Science

November 22, 2014

Expedition – August 2015

ELYSIUM ARTISTS FOR THE ARCTIC is a project that combines the expertise of some of the world’s top scientists, artists, and explorers to create a multi-faceted interpretation of the Arctic. Artists for the Arctic hopes to inspire greater appreciation, understanding, and love for this critically important part of our planet, while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change. This icy ecosystem is regarded as one of the most enchanting wilderness regions of our planet, yet volatile and under severe threat from the warming of the world’s climate. This expedition promises to deliver the most awe-inspiring and stunning visual representation ever seen of the Arctic. The sights, sounds, and science captured by the Elysium Team will inspire ways to preserve and protect life at the top of the world through art, education, and outreach.

THE MISSION: The Explorer Team’s mission is to encapsulate the splendor of the Arctic through the sights and sounds of this enthralling region, into one exquisite volume, a film and exhibitions around the world in eight major cities in 2016-2017. Elysium’s science team will record and study the impacts of disappearing sea ice in the Arctic, inspiring, educating, and engaging the public about the wonders of the Arctic and its importance to our global climate. Through cross-cultural dialogue and educational outreach programs, Artists for the Arctic aims to exchange knowledge with Inuit groups and Elders about their home and the animals that live there. These first-hand accounts will be broadcast through a series of exhibitions worldwide, global social networks, and media channels, inspiring conservation for the diverse life of the Arctic as well as drawing attention to the impacts of climate change, ocean change, and disappearing sea ice. Only with your support will we be able to spread this critical message around the globe. You can have a direct impact on the way the world sees and understands the Arctic, and consequently on how we protect this precious polar region in the near future.

Elysium Artists for the Arctic is a carbon neutral expedition funded by Ocean Geographic Society.

WHAT IS NEEDED: We need to maximize our time in the Arctic, and what we can accomplish will directly depend on how much money is raised in the next 2 months. Our goal for this campaign is to raise $350,000.
We projected $80, 000 to bring in specialized scientific equipment: Open source ROVs with HD cameras, temperature and salinity instruments, mobile aquarium and scientist to bring in the video plankton recorder, laboratory and plankton sampling equipment. We’ll need $85,000 to create and produce the Elysium limited edition book and movie, $25,000 for the Elysium Arctic Report, $20,000 to produce the full soundtrack, and $150,000 to transport and curate exhibition for eight cities.

Please consider donating to this one of a kind project. Click on the Polar Bear below and you’ll be redirected to the Indiegogo Campaign Site to learn more about the interesting rewards for getting involved: