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Sardine Run, Wetpixel Trip

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Hey, guys! The Wetpixel Sardine Run group has been having great luck so far. We haven't had any big bait balls yet, but both days we've been able to go out (2 of 4, so far), we've had small bait balls and tons of dolphin, whale, and ganet activity. This is extreme diving at its finest. :lol:

 

The Wetpixel group:

 

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We're bumping into Drew every once in awhile. He maintains that he is staying in "civilization" down the coast for us, but you don't see him logging on and posting photos. hehehe.

 

Giles is having many "firsts" here. "That's my first whale!" "That's my first dolphin!" "That's my first sandwich!" etc. etc. He hasn't been in cold water since he was certified, so it's funny to listen to him complain about being in a 5mm suit.

 

We tried to get out early this morning (7am), but the conditions were too rough for a launch and probably too bad to be worth being out there. It's an off day today, so I thought I'd post a few images from the last two days.

 

The Mbotyi River Lodge, from the air:

 

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More photos from two days of water time:

 

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Hi Eric

You guys look like something out of Team America Aquatic Version..... but where are the all the babes :lol:

 

Great pics.....

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The sardine run is bearable in 5mm?

 

Cor

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Eric:

 

Great shots as always! I love the last one. Keep 'em coming!

 

Doug

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Have fun and be safe Eric. Great pix.

 

Oh, and tell Giles that I think he looks super-sexy in that wetsuit!

 

Cheers

James

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Have fun guys - you all suck! :lol:

 

Thanks for the pictures Eric - my fav is the last one too.

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Great stuff! What kind of birds are those torpedoing from the surface?

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"but where are the all the babes"

 

a look at the photograph of this motley crew answers that question... :lol:

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Looks good so far...

 

tell Giles to lay off the beer or Alex will fire him as a model... :lol:

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The water has been really warm here, so a 5mm would be totally fine at the surface (20 deg C). However, when (if?) we get some action and get in on scuba, it will be much more comfortable in a 7mm. :lol:

 

By the way, the Wetpixel group is:

 

Eric Cheng

Ken Howard

Matt Moreno

Giles Shaxted

Flann Horgan

Jurg Vonwil

Lucien Schmidlin

Son Ly

 

Also, Michael Aw and Franco Banfi are here. There are multiple film crews around, too, including an IMAX team with a helicopter.

 

Bad weather prevented us from going out again today, so it's been 2 of 5 days out on the water! 3 more days in the water with SEAL, and then Giles, Ken and I will be out 7 days with Drew.

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We've just finished our 10 days with SEAL Expeditions. Of our 8 possible days, we were actually out on the water for 5, and even though we saw (small) bait balls around, it was unusual for everything to come together in such a way that even warranted getting into the water. At least 9-10 boats out on the water rushing to get in on big action didn't make anything easier, and sometimes it seemed that the incoming zodiacs themselves would break up the action (when skippers decided to just zoom in instead of skirting around the edge).

 

But the entire experience was altogether enjoyable, and we've all had a great time here.

 

Ken, Giles and I are now at the Outspan Inn in Port St. Johns, and will be here with Drew for 6-7 more days out on the water. I hope we get a proper bait ball so we can have the opportunity to attempt to get some good images!

 

More photos:

 

Matt, Giles, Son, and Cain (our guide) on horses. Gallopy horses, that made our bums sore.

 

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The most beautiful double rainbow I've ever seen, right from the Mbotyi River Lodge:

 

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Magwa Falls:

 

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Ken Howard, freediving on a small bait ball:

 

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Cape Gannet surfacing after a dive:

 

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Common dolphin and sardines, with plenty of space for text. :lol:

 

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Crazy topside action. Moving too fast to get in.

 

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Cape gannets diving into the water.

 

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A juvenile cape gannet eats a sardine on the surface.

 

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Bull and copper sharks on the surface, feeding on a bait ball (rare to have them grouped together shoulder to shoulder!)

 

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A challenge?!? :(

 

I don't pepper the board with images. Just 1 will do. :)post-1861-1151751321_thumb.jpg

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Great pics guys, yep I'm jealous....and drew you have to be happy with that shot :)

 

Did you crop it from a larger shot or was that it as taken.

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Great shots -- sounds pretty wild (not just IN the water, but vying for space with all the other boats ABOVE water!)! :)

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Exciting shots as usual Eric!

 

And Drew, that whale is, well absolutely awesome, but I bet you already know that!! :)

 

Looks and sounds exciting,

 

Thanks, Carol

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yes was good fun but also tough and as already posted the big show was not (yet?) there...maybe next week for Eric, Ken and Giles or next year for me (maybe). In addition I got sick in between and have not many good underwater shots... but another highlight was the return trip since Lucien did not want to take the 5 hours bus ride and hence ordered a private chopper! And from up there we got some humpbacks mother-baby and breaching action! unfortunate not as tack sharp as I wished albeit shot with the 70-200 VR (plus 2x teleconverter) at ISO 200 and between 1/750 and 1/1500 sec! Would you believe that? Obviously shooting out of a fast moving helicopter with a tele lens requires something like ISO 800 and 1/8000 sec max shutter speed...another new experience!

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some more pics....

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Hi Guys,

 

Holy shit, that looks the dogs gonads. The pics tell a thousand stories and I think we are all going to book next years trip.

 

Drew, you were right when you said that quarry filming was in. The picture of that giant breeching pike you sent in was amazing :) Obviously not as good as my stuff but you cannot have it always...You jacksey git... :(

 

Have a safe and fantastc trip lads

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

 

P.s yeah, wheres the ladies.???

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Reposted from my journal:

 

The ocean is so fickle. Yesterday, the sky was black with Cape gannets, and our zodiac had a twenty-dolphin escort for nearly the entire day (a mere twenty among the hundreds around us). The action was really great as we gunned through the surf out of the valley, but we were not able to actually jump on any of it. Most of the action was in the muddy, no-vis area close to shore, and a nice, stable bait ball we found out in open water dissipated at the moment we finished suited up. All of this action was against the reports we’ve been hearing, but that’s the way it goes. After all, we don’t really care of the main shoal is near; all that matters is that there is good action.

 

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school of bottlenose dolphin plus an oceanic black-tip shark off in the distance(Charcharhinus limbatus)

 

As is typical, the action thinned out as the morning progressed. We nearly called it a day because of the strength of the wind, but as we moved closer to shore and away from the mouth of the valley (wind tunnel!) we were able to find relatively calm water. We randomly fell off of the boat around some sharks and a pod of dolphins (on snorkel), and after awhile, we happened upon a small humpback whale at the surface. It was just gently bobbing up and down while breathing shallowly.

 

The whale was not a big one and was probably just under 30' long. He was hanging upside down motionless much like a singer would, except that there was no accompanying song to be heard.

 

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a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) hangs out

 

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whale tail!

 

After a few minutes, the whale started to move again. His head swung gracefully upward, and I quickly realized that the guy was on track to come up right under me! I finned away as fast as I could and just managed to get out of the way before turning around to snap some pictures.

 

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oh... hello, mr. whale!

 

I shot until the oncoming whale filled the frame and then had a random thought. Things usually seem to be further away when looking through the viewfinder while using a wide-angle lens, a fact that we sometimes use to hide from overwhelming action (i.e. a photographer’s version of sticking one’s head in the sand). So when I looked up, I saw this whale’s head right in front of my face. The whale blew and then start to move forward with a bit more enthusiasm. I turned, swam back quickly for 3-4 seconds, and then turned again to shoot another photo. Giles told me that it was at this point that he thought I been hit by the whale. :)

 

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I also have lots of frames that consist only of surface froth

 

I can't be certain that the whale wouldn't have just investigated closely before turning away, but when an object this big approaches you, the urge to get out of the way is pretty strong.

 

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whales are cool

 

After twenty minutes or so, Drew showed up on scuba. Whale promptly left. We’re still giving Drew shit for that one. :(

 

Oh yeah -- there were also schools of common dolphin swimming around, but I wasn’t able to get them in the shots.

 

All images shot with Canon 1Ds Mk II, Seacam housing, Ikelite DS-125 strobes, Sigma 20mm/1.8 lens.

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