I notice a number of people coming to my blog through searches suggesting they are interested in sharks or shark attacks. I wished to state (as I have stated before) that sharks are, for the most part, not a threat to people. Occasionally, a shark does bite a surfer and even more rarely, a swimmer. And while it is hardly a consolation to those who do get bitten that it is a relatively rare occurrence, you are far more likely to be injured by a wave (or almost anything else) than by a shark.
I am not saying that I would be comfortable floating at the surface at night, treading water after a plane crash, but I am saying that sharks have a lot more to fear from us than we do of them, and I strongly encourage you to rent the movie “Sharkwater” so you can get a different perspective from what the news media and the Discovery Channel are always hyping when the subject comes up.
I have gone swimming with the sharks, and the pictures of sharks on this blog were taken by Colleen and me while diving in the Bahamas. It was a great deal of fun and an incredible opportunity to see these animals up close and personal. While I would not recommend swimming in chummed water or even snorkeling while sharks are feeding, I can recommend with a high degree of comfort that if you are a diver, and are not scared silly of sharks, you will very much enjoy your first encounter.
Here we see a Caribbean Reef shark, eying my camera. Or perhaps, eying me. The focus is all wrong because the eye is blurry. However, I thought it was an interesting shot nonetheless.
Colleen is enthusiastic about diving with sharks. After diving with the reef sharks, she is now eager to see the bigger animals. And watching divers in the water with tiger and lemon sharks has given her something to look forward to. Last night, I asked her, “Would you want to do a night dive with the tiger sharks that are 12-15 feet long?”
Her response? “Yes, they will be easier to see at night if they are big!”
I love her. I don’ t know that I’ll dive tiger beach at night with her though. I may just have to sit that one out!
Here are a few more shots of the sharks we saw in the Bahamas. The photos of me were taken by Colleen and are the first pictures she has taken underwater with the dSLR camera. So far, both of us are shooting as if we had a large point and shoot digicam, but we’re taking fun pictures nonetheless!
The above photo is among my favorites. I just like the way that both pectoral fins are showing as well as the eye.
Well, I’ve written about going to the Bahamas to dive with the sharks, and I’ve posted a few photos, but I thought more pictures of the animals would be appreciated. People have been asking, “Are those great white sharks?” And the answer is, no. They are carribbean reef sharks. MAYBE they are grey reef sharks, but I don’t know if that is the case.
Other people ask, “Are those man eating sharks?” and the answer is, No. They are reef sharks. There really are no “man eating sharks” if by “man eating” one means a species that regularly makes man part of its diet. Sharks don’t eat people, though on occasion they do take an exploratory bite, and the bigger the shark the bigger the bite. Unlike other animals (certain tigers, mosquitoes), sharks rarely attack people. It happens, of course, but rarely. Dogs attack people too. Hippopotami attack people. People attack people. There is nothing especially dangerous about sharks. People fear them because of media hype. People fear them because when people swim in the ocean, they are no longer the top of the food chain. People fear them because they are hard to see when one is swimming in the water. And, then, there is Jaws, which ruined the ocean for at least two generations of people!
In any event, the shark is a beautiful animal that has been around for hundreds of millions of years. As the apex predator, it helps keep our oceans healthy. Sharks are being destroyed, and the harm to the ecosystem cannot be readily predicted, but can easily be imagined. Entire food chains are collapsing. For want of sharks, the ray populations explode. Too many rays, and the population of scallops is destroyed. If you make yoru living selling scallops, and there are none to be found, you can thank the overfishing of sharks. Of course, you are then probably killing rays and cutting them up into discs and calling them Scallops (yes folks, this does happen), but the point is, messing with an ecosystem is never a good thing.
Enough preaching, and here are some pictures!
This is a Lion Fish, which is not endemic to the Bahamas, but is thriving there as a result of having no predators.
Well, we have returned from our trip to the Bahamas, and I am pleased to say that I was able to get some very nice photographs with both my wide angle 11-17mm lens and my 60mm macro lens. The sharks were not very plentiful except at one site where they are fed, but because there were so many and they were quite easy to get close to, Colleen and I were able to get quite a few pictures.
We definitely had to be up close and personal with the sharks to get a great picture – I’d say that 3 feet was an ideal distance, however some nice shots were had from further away and some were had from as close as a foot, maybe less.
I had a lot of trouble getting the camera to function properly, for three dives or so, but then I managed to work the kinks out and finally start taking some pictures. I obtained much better photos than I had previously shot with my point and shoot camera. Whether this was the result of a better camera or a better flash, or both, is hard to say. But, I can certainly say that I am happy with my pictures, and while it was a bit difficult to travel with so much gear, the pictures we now have made it all worthwhile!
I will post some picutres in a week or so, depending on my work schedule.
Soon, we head to the outer islands in the Bahamas, known as the Exumas. This trip is intended as a practice run in many respects, for the following summer we head out to dive Komodo in Indonesia. Neither Colleen nor I have ever done “live aboard” diving (i.e., diving where you live on the boat), and both of us are somewhat prone to sea sickness.
We are both hoping to learn the use of our respective cameras on this trip as well. She will be shooting with the Sony compact camera, and I will be shooting with the gigantic Nikon D300 camera. I expect that she will get the best pictures of the sharks, which is too bad for her, because I’ll be the one in the picture with the animal, while my picture of her will probably be way too tiny due to the wide angle lens I will be using.
I hope I am wrong, and that we both get some great pictures of sharks. And, i f possible, pictures of sharks and ourselves taking pictures of sharks. I am not inclined to touch or ride the critters, however. Colleen, on the other hand, wants to hug them. I do hope she waits for me to compose and focus before letting go….
It seemed to take a long time to choose a camera for my as of yet to be “developed” photography skills. After deciding to upgrade my point and shoot to a dSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, I had to decide which dSLR to purchase. So I did what any modern day consumer does, and hit the internet. I soon found that there are many digital camera review sights and even more “forums” where you can discuss the pros and cons with happy and disgruntled shutterbugs.
In the end, I probably could not have gone wrong with any dSLR, but I nevertheless wound up “focusing” on the Nikon D300 for no other reason than that it made every reviewer who touched it, swoon with giddiness. I too wish to be giddy. Sadly, I know next to nothing about SLR photography, and what I do know, I learned simply by reading in anticipation of buying such a camera. So, when my camera does arrive, I probably will be no more impressed than I would have been with a camera that cost half as much.
One thing I was repeatedly told, the camera does not make the picture, the photographer does. Hopefully, having invested so much in a camera, I will be inclined to learn how to use it and become a decent photographer. Of course, if I don’t find myself using it on a fairly regular basis, slowly improving my skills, I always have the option of returning it. This is the main benefit to purchasing goods at Costco – their generous 90 day return policy. I could have saved over $70.00 had I purchased it from my other favorite retailer, newegg.com, since they do not charge sales tax in New York. I would have had the camera faster from newegg.com as well. However, there, you can only exchange the camera for another of the same model. That would hardly be useful to me if I lack the desire and aptitude to use the camera and want to get a less expensive model.
I am under a bit of time pressure, however, as I am going to swim with the sharks in July – so I have to either use my point and shoot, or make the considerable investment in an underwater housing for the new camera. That basically means I have to quickly fall in love with the camera buy an appropriate lens for underwater, and then set out to house everything, if I want to have all my gear ready to go in July.
Hopefully, I am up for the challenge, and the result will be some awesome underwater photography that I can call my own, hang in my home and office, and share with the world.
Welcome to the birth of what could quite possibly be the most important Blog in the history of man. Whether your choose to return or not, I hope you enjoy your visit.
This is a picture of a smooth trunkfish. Sometimes they are sold in aquariums. However, they make poor pets since they may excrete a toxin when under stress, and this toxin can kill it, as well as all the other fish in the tank. Of course, these beauties can be safely enjoyed in the open ocean by snorkelers and scuba divers alike! I strongly encourage anybody who is interested in diving to take up the sport.
Edited: To delete reference to website which was too difficult to maintain. WordPress Blog is all I needed. Imagine that!