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Everything posted by shawnh

  1. Letter to Richard Branson - Modern Day Conservation Hero Richard Branson - Top 10 Nations Protecting the Oceans
  2. In the past 3 years I have traveled to the corners of the planet, to some of the most remote and inaccessible coastal regions, to document the unchecked and often secret slaughter of one of the most graceful, charismatic, gentle and vulnerable of marine species…the Manta Ray. Several years ago I teamed up with my good friend and uncompromising conservation photographer Paul Hilton, to expose this senseless destruction and to try to put an end to it. This mission took us on an unforgettable journey, one that exposed us to constant danger, threat of violence, brutal conditions, exhaustion and incredible frustration. But what we were not prepared for, was the extent and brutality of the manta fisheries, and how the shark fin trader network had become the driving force behind this exploitation. What we witnessed tore at our hearts, blackened our souls, and all but crushed what hope remained within us. Read the FULL STORY:
  3. As shocking as it may sound and especially given all my shark film work, I had never seen an Oceanic White Tip shark in wild until my trip with Jim Abernethy this past June. Sadly, I had seen many Oceanic White Tip fins throughout the fisheries of Asia. When one considers that Oceanic White Tips have seen 90% to 99% declines in past few decade, it is not surprising we don’t see them much anymore. Perhaps the most exciting encounter occurred out in the open ocean in several thousand feet of water, when we dropped into a pod of pilot whales. As a dozen pilot whales swam past and below us, a curious Oceanic White Tip suddenly appeared and made a beeline for me. My heart raced because I felt quite vulnerable bobbing on the surface in just my bathing suit and snorkel gear. For a fleeting moment I wondered, " Am I going to become a statistic in the shark attack files"? But that thought evaporated immediately when the shark reached me. Contrary to popular myth, the shark was only curious and not the vicious beast it has been made out to be. I came right up to my camera, glanced into my dome to investigate what this strange creature was, then slowly drifted off into the blue, continuing its pursuit of the pod of pilot whales. JOURNAL and IMAGES
  4. Yes...outed! But you are right, more secrets to come on the video front where the real vodoo is happening. And I agree, metering is important in viewfinder for sure!
  5. Hey Mike, 5D Mark II, Sigma 15 with 1.4TC, Aquatica Housing, Wahoo HD monitor Cheers shawn
  6. Both. Best shots for natural light are on snorkel. Video you get more stable shots on scuba. But we do our scuba in a 'special' way to keep on the action!
  7. Viewfinder is useless. I recommend practicing a LOT eyeing up shots and framing by feel. Your eyes must be on the action to capture the split moment when the fish lights up and strikes...not easy but with practice....
  8. Thanks Doug. Perhaps 2013 you can see this for yourself...let me know.
  9. We returned to Isla Mujeres for our 4th season of sailfish action aboard the Lilly M and Andrea M of Keen M International. Captains Anthony, Rogelio and David did an outstanding job as usual. Despite challenging weather conditions and fluctuations in the activity, each trip was huge success with epic sailfish baitball action. In addition, we encountered many other species of marine life, and scored some terrific interactions. In our first trip, Richard Branson and his family joined us to give the sailfish a try. Having already experienced the whale shark aggregations in July, he was ready to turn up the heat several notches and experience one of the most exciting and intense marine spectacles found anywhere in the Ocean. Also with me was my good friend John Petry who was trying his hand at a “Shawn Epic” for the first time. Lawrence kindly invited us as guests to join him on the his vessel the Chachalaca for some incredible action! [vimeohd]31094144[/vimeohd] [vimeohd]36796883[/vimeohd] The trip was a huge success with baitballs lasting for hours and sailfish ripping apart the sardines just inches from our masks. We also swam with groups of giant mantas, a whale shark. One curious manta decided to give Richard a closer look, coming nose to nose before ducking right under him. For Richard’s son Sam, his interaction with a whale shark was a first in his lifetime. Everyone left with huge smiles, excited to return to Isla again from more marine mega-fauna activity. I also had a second group with me during that first week. Sean Havas, Sterling Zumbunn (Backscatter) and my older brother Brett Heinrichs. The group was incredibly proficient in the water and I even struggled to keep up with the furious pace that we chased down baitball after bait ball. Day one we landed a 3 hour baitball and another 2 hour baitball. Day 2 was much the same. Day 3 and 4 I was off the boat and the success continued without me. Day 5 we regrouped and found sails again, but this time conditions had turned and we called it an early day. Overall the trip was a huge success and everyone came back with epic imagery. Read Blog: SAILFISH 2012 BLOG
  10. I would say the same. They make one for the Nauticam now. I honestly believe this is a game changer for Video work! Wahoo HD - Nauticam
  11. Hi folks, After wishing everyone a wonderful and happy new year, I figured it was time to get something off of my chest. The Dark Room is a visual journey through the darker side of my investigative work in the shark fin trade. I share this story and images as a means of self therapy, to clear my head so I can move forward in 2012 revitalized and passionate to make a difference. Warning – The following contains imagery that depicts the hard truth. My soul was blackened. Where once I had seen light at the end of the tunnel, now there was only darkness engulfing me. How had mankind gone so far off the track, engaging in such barbaric acts, willful cruelty and reckless destruction? Nature has given us so many incredible gifts, but rather than cherish and protect them, we have set out to systematically eradicate them. Fighting on the frontlines of shark conservation can be a lonely, frustrating and often depressing experience. In July of 2011, I had just returned from a long string of investigations focused on the shark fin and manta ray gill-raker trade. With a decade of environmental investigation experience under my belt, I have seen just about every imaginable act of cruelty and wanton destruction. Through these hard experiences I have learned to separate myself, developing an alter ego as it were, to cope in the heat of the moment and not subject myself to increased danger. Over the years I have convinced myself that these two personas can coexist in harmony, that my thick skin and polished armor would safeguard my soul from the effects of the ugliness I have witnessed. I feared that if it the blackness seeped through a crack in my armor, it would poison my soul and I would lose the path. Folks often ask me what it is like to work on frontlines and how do I keep it up. I respond with a safe confident answer that I get used to it, that I maintain professional detachment, keep my cool, focus on the job at hand, and I don’t internalize it. In the face of such destruction, I walk a fine line between bitter reality and hope. My job is to expose the destruction as a wake up call to the world, but also to preserve hope in the future; that mankind will wake up, will change and things will get better. I call this approach ‘strong medicine in small doses’. The problem is, in the process of collecting these ‘small doses’ I have had to expose myself to massive and prolonged doses. And as no surprise, this extreme exposure has proven toxic and painful and only now am I realizing this. Read More: Journal: The DARK ROOM
  12. Hi Alexx, The monitor does not shrink the screen, it drops the resolution. As it is already a 480p monitor, I didn't find this to be a problem. Would be happy answer specifics if needed. Overall, it is far better then any options on the native camera LCD. Cheers
  13. Our friends at Misool Eco Resort have set up a Manta Cam using a Go Pro on our favorite manta site. In addition to loads of mantas, they captured this incredible grey reef shark cleaning footage. I haven't seen anything like this before!
  14. Thanks Steve and everyone. The whales did all the magic...I just pulled the trigger! Was shooting with the 5D in Aquatica Housing. Dates were August 21-Aug 31 this year. Can't wait to get back! Shawn
  15. I just returned from several weeks of filming in the Kingdom of Tonga with my buddy John Weller. We are working on a global project, The Ocean Voice Film Series, addressing conservation issues and strategies at all levels of the ecosystem. This stop of the project took us back to the Kingdom of Tonga, located as far as one can get from a continent in the South-Central Pacific. With the invaluable help of our good friend Tony Wu, we returned again this year to complete the filming and documentary work. As with last year, the weather proved to be a real challenge. For all but perhaps a day, the wind howled over the islands, driven by a strong high-pressure cell to the south of us. Fortunately for us, and in stark contrast to last season, this year was a banner year for mothers and calves, with total ID’d calves running at twice the running average. Capitalizing on this, we managed some stunning encounters which again, created lifetime memories for us. Full Report
  16. Hi Stew, I read this thread with interest but honestly was disappointed by much of your commentary. In the past I have considered your input fair and impartial. Your recent posts unfortunately reflect a strong defensive posture for Scotty and Dolphin dream, regardless of their flagrant abusive behavior as documented in this video. Did you know Emma was pregnant during this period? Do you understand the possible repercussions and if so, do you care? Sharks are nothing like wahoo and other sport fish. You should understand that their biology, behavior and lifecycle are completely different. In addition, the use of a chain directly on the bait damages the sharks mouth and destroys their teeth. Most shark operators today shun this practice. Yes the next row of teeth comes in, but is this abuse reasonable and to be endorsed? I know folks who frequent the Dolphin Dream who are publicly very outspoken against the use of chains in baiting. I also know folks who have shot FOR Discovery Shark Week on the Dophin who feel their practices used are excessive, sensationalist and abusive. If ALL operators chose to set the standard higher and not allow film crews to create sensationalistic and abusive programming on their watch, the media portrayal of sharks would be in a different state. Unfortunately some operators do not take this stand, and the resulting video is what we end up with. And yes, their are many other important issues relating to sharks. That said, public empathy for the animals plays a critical role in supporting legislation to protect them. This kind of programing that that job more difficult....and working every day on this issue, we don't need any more obstacles than we already face. I understand your need to defend the operator you choose. That said, please don't let this cause you to also defend the abusive and reckless treatment of the sharks we saw in this video. Your last post offers all kinds of justifications, then ends with "but, this doesn't mean I support it". If don't support it, then say so with conviction. If you do, then do state it. A luke warm posture is safe, but not really compelling. Let's not confuse the issue. Scotty needs to man-up and tell Discovery this kind of behavior is not welcome on his boat and will not be tolerated. If they don't like it, then they can take their business elsewhere. In that case, I would be delighted to see him continue to run his business and share the sharks of the Bahamas with more potential shark supporters. I hope you take my commentary as intended, for the sharks and nothing more. Cheers shawn
  17. This is big news! WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An area covering over two million square miles of the western Pacific Ocean, two-thirds of the land area of the United States, is slated to become the world's largest shark sanctuary and the first one ever created through a regional agreement among governments. Leaders at last week's 15th Micronesian Chief Executive Summit passed a resolution (PDF) to begin the process of creating a regional sanctuary where shark fishing would be prohibited. The agreement, which also authorizes the development of a regional ban on the possession, sale and trade of shark fins, covers the waters of the Federated States of Micronesia and its four member States, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Full Article
  18. Manta feeding while Whale Shark passes behind What was very interesting this year was the abundance of manta rays. In prior years we have seen the odd manta or two swim past but not engage in the feeding. We assumed the fish eggs were not on their diet. This year we had many days with mantas obviously feeding. I wonder if this behavior evolution or coincidence.?
  19. Incredible, inspirational, and also sad to know that many do not escape this fate.
  20. Here are some more fun images: WildAid Crew: (L-R) Shawn Heinrichs, Jeanne Sedgewick, Raymond Man, Walter Sedgewick, Sharon Kwok Pong, Richard Branson, Samantha Cox, Mark Koschker, Peter Knights, Keith Addis, Corrie Knights Whale Shark eats tourism boat Briana Rivera with Whale Shark Richard Branson enjoys his first whale shark encounter (video grab) Danielle Heinrichs photographs Whale Shark
  21. Nice work Phil! Share some of the topside cultural shots you nailed to give a flavor of the town too.
  22. Whale Shark gulps down eggs THIS YEAR THE ACTION WAS SIMPLY INCREDIBLE! Jim Abernethy and I just wrapped up this years series of whale shark aggregation trips off Isla Mujeres, Mexico. As with they prior two years (PRIOR YEAR VIDEOS), this year was a home run with incredible in-water and topside activity and on peak days, several hundred whale sharks gathered in the space of 1 square km. When we first discovered the aggregation, we could never have guessed how it would transform the the tiny island of Isla Mujeres into the world's whale shark mecca. Nowhere else can you swim with such huge numbers of whale sharks, in blue water with such a great degree of certainty. Whale Sharks aggregate on surface of calm seas Our guests hailed from all over the world including Hong Kong, France, Europe, Australia and of course the US, among others. Many guests reported this was one of the best experiences of their lives. This year we also hosted a special WildAid trip that delivered in spades. This year we had hundreds of whale sharks, manta trains, sailfish, mobula rays, cownose rays, turtles, schools of bonito and even a pod of dolphins charge past...simply incredible. The whale shark activity was full on, the Island delightful, the hotel and pool a welcome haven after a long day on the water,and the guacamole, cervezas, and gelato unforgettable. Images: Whale Shark feeds behind sargassum Mantas and Whale Sharks feeding Whale Shark with Manta below Sailfish darts through Whale Shark aggregation Douglas Seifert shoot Whale Shark silhouette Whale Shark train Huge Whale Shark feeds on tour boat Whale Shark in vertical feeding posture Pair of Whale Sharks swim overhead Whale Sharks gather to feed NEXT YEAR WE WILL BE BACK FOR MORE!!! Blog: Blue Sphere Media - Whale Shark Journal
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