Between what I have shot both here in Palm Beach Florida (sharks, sea turtles and goliath groupers) and the Philippines, picking my favorite was tough. The one I at the top of the list (not for composition or camera technique, but rather for shear luck) is this one in a lifetime encounter with a lone 500 lb. Blue Fin Tuna that made a surprise visit last fall off Jupiter, Florida.
The bait formations are due to a couple factors. Basically the small fish (scab or cigar minnows) are there to feed onthe eggs when the goliath spawn, while at the same time other predators, mostly jacks and few rainbow runners will feed on the small fish. To exscape the jacks, the small fish will ball up around the goliaths, and yes the goliahs do eat some of them from time to time.
Goliath grouper are the subject of strong opinions and divided emotions. Divers love to see these mammoth fish; underwater hunters denounce them as competitors, or covet them as outsized trophies; fishermen are just itching for a policy change that allows harvest; and regulatory bodies seem constantly poised to rescind long-term protection in favor of short-term exploitation.
Opinions abound, and the rhetoric can get heated when interest groups clash. But when cooler heads prevail, the facts emerge, and paint a picture of a species that has come back from the brink, but is still very much in need of our protection. This 7th – 9th members and staff from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the South Atlantic Management Council and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet at the Key Largo Hilton in a open session to consider reopening the Goliath grouper fishery.
I have put together a very detailed feature in the latest issue (UWJ-issue_31) of the Underwater Journal that you should read if you are considering attending this meeting (the big day is the 8th), or act through petitions (http://petitions.mov...fb&r_by=9731813) and Social Media like facebook, it will help to read this story.
As a SDI/TDI Instructor, all I have to say is that Self Reliant Diver Course is for better words the appropriate description/title for what the course entails be it SDI/TDI, SSI or now PADI. No matter whether you are in the water alone, with a buddy, or even surrounded by 20 other divers, you are still better off with the knowledge gained through proper training in how to be more self reliant.
Day in, day out, the first person you can rely most on is yourself.
I am glad to hear you made it out O.K., but am also shocked about your decision to venture into a cave at Vortex Spring as you did.
This is not a question about solo diving, or that much on carrying the type of redundancy outlined for solo diving. This is an issue of diving in a overhead environment.
The majority of divers who die in the cave systems are not certified cave divers, but recreational divers venturing beyond what they are trained for.
Most recreational divers, as you have I am sure, like to go into the cavern portion of a cave. To clarify, a cavern is typically a larger, more open portion of a cave passage where the exit point is clearly visible - due to ambient light coming in through the entrance. When cavern diving, at no time in the dive should the exit no longer be clearly visible from the diver. Once you reach a penetration point where that is no longer the case, you are now in a cave environment. This same rule very much applies to cavern environments when surface clarity is so badly compromised from silt, mud or tannin in the water that sunlight penetration is blocked out (as I was able to see in your video), meaning you where well beyond a point you should have been.
Count your self very lucky my friend, for doing something very stupid.
I apologize for being coarse in my statement, but want to be sure that my point is understood.
Not me! I like the digital form factor and what I can with the camera at the time I am shooting, as well as what I can do with the image afterwards. The thing I don't ever miss was the need to bring 50 to 100 rolls of film on major assignments and trips, and the cost and time to get all processed once I got back home. Today a single Flash card I can carry in my pocket would cover that and more.
The very idea of “Professional Underwater Photographer” has come to the point of being almost entirely fiction. Even the best/largest stock agencies can not deliver a sizeable check for a photographer specializing in only that field like they use to due to the saturation of good imagery that keeps flooding the market. Most magazines are still paying the same rate for image use as they did during the 90’s, with less and less work becoming available due to the crush of the internet on their own bottom line.
When I was able to make a living as an underwater photographer, the circle of those who were able to realistically do it was small enough that we knew each other. But it took more than being good at your craft, often times, it required the ability to write the story to go with it. To use the worn out clique The Time’s are a Changing, technology has changed that. The range of camera systems are for ranging, not mention frighteningly capable at what they can deliver in even less than competent hands. Canon alone recently celebrated their production of 80 million EF model lenses alone. And then there is the internet, which wasn’t around during the height of my game. Now it has advanced to a point where I am seeing images that would have been reserved and deserving for a high-end publication now gracing the pages this forum and facebook on a daily basis.
Today, the label of Underwater Photographer is a small facet of what I do. Take a quite tour of my websites – UnderwaterJournal.com, WaltStearns.com, as well as both my facebook pages (Walt Stearns and Underwater Journal), and my wife’s (karenstearns) not to mention the ones we serve as admins for (Wakatobi Dive Resort and KISS Rebreathers) you will get (excuse the pun) a picture of what I do now.
As piece of advise, look at your investment in your camera equipment and travel as an investment into your passion, not as an investment into a career path, you will be a lot happier that way.