Live reports: Wetpixel Whale Sharks 2015

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Whale Shark photo bombing my picture of Mike!

Wetpixel Whale Sharks 2015 Report: Day 3

The starts are getting earlier! After our amazing day on Tuesday, the team are realizing that the earlier we leave, the longer we get to to be out with the sharks without there being large numbers of day boats.

So we set off at 6.30, hoping for a repeat of the action on Tuesday.

Cristian and I had swapped around, so Caron and I spent the day on the Andrea M with Mike, Alison, Karen and David while he was on the Sea Chuachua with Steve, Paul, Aki, Harry and Javier.

The conditions were mill pond smooth, with no wind. This seemed to mean that the sharks were spread out over a larger area, with lots of animals, but we had to swim more to find them!

The upside of this was that all the boats were spread out too, so it was easy to find subjects that did not have a school of “pilot snorkelers” in tow with them!

Cristian shows off the “behind the scenes” method of wildlife photography!

We all got pretty tired swimming around after sharks and from the early start and with the action becoming less plentiful as the sharks went deeper in the afternoon, we called it a day.

However, most of the group decided to go and visit Punta Sur (South Point) on the island. This of course meant that we also had to partake in sampling the local beverages too!

So tomorrow will be another early start. We hope that there will be lost of sharks like today!

Wetpixel Whale Sharks 2015 Report: Day 4

Another early start! We were all away by 6.45, heading North. Each morning the boats steam out to look for the sharks, and typically, they skippers communicate via radio with each other, giving information about where the sharks are. Toady, we found the downside of our “get there first” approach!

As we were the only two boats out, and the sea is a big place, so it took us some tome to find the whale sharks. They had been congregating about 26 miles north east of Isla Mujeres, but for reason unknown, had decided to move about 8 miles south overnight! We have asked them not to do it again without warning us!

There was a lot of sharks again, with some really amazing encounters. The school was quite spread out again,so it tended to mean that we were having to swim to get into good positions.

In general, the visibility is very good, although there are some large patches of sargassum floating on the surface. Many of you will know that Cristian often wears a camouflage wet suit, but he was able to operate covertly by using this!

We also spent some time shooting the amazing sun rays going through the clear blue water.

It is the first group’s final day on the water tomorrow, so we hope for lots more sharks for them on their final day.

Wetpixel Whale Sharks 2015 Report: Day 5

The last day for our first group dawned flat calm and as seems to be the way on this trip, we set out early. It took us a little time to find the sharks, but with an hour or so, we were in great area with lots of sharks.

The sharks were very spread out, which meant that we all had to swim for them! There were lots of really good close passes, but we had to swim to get in the path of the shark as it was feeding. Perhaps because the sharks were so spread out, they also tended to swerve away, particularly if you swim towards them. When the sharks and densely packed, they cannot really swerve as much as they need to avoid colliding with the other animals around them.

The technique is to move sideways relative to the sharks approach and to try and predict where it will end up, so that when it is close you are not needing to move much. This results in passes (and photographic results) that are much more pleasing.

We were able to spend some considerable length of time in the water and we all got some fantastic images. The flat water created some fantastic reflections. It would have been and ideal day for splits, but I had my Fisheye port, so this made them a challenge!

Thanks to Cristian, I have become a litle obsessed with slow shutter speeds!

After a day out on the water, we headed back to the hotel to take our group photos!

Half the group got the memo about doing a Mexican wave!

The “tools of the trade” in formation. Honorably missing was Harry O’Neil’s Aquatica AD7000 which was having a bath!

I have started a thread over on the Wetpixel forum and hope that the participants will be sharing their images and stories (any about me are undoubtedly untrue!) on it.

We are sadly saying goodbye to our first group. Heartfelt thanks for a great week. We are welcoming the second group though and are really looking forward to being back out on the water with them tomorrow.