Brian Skerry@brianskerry

National Geographic Photographer // Speaker // Author // Rolex Explorer of the Year

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Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
November is #ManateeAwarnessMonth !
A portrait of a manatee in Florida’s Crystal River. Manatees are vulnerable to a variety of threats, from loss of sea grass which they eat, to cold water temperatures, red tide and boat strikes. Habitat loss due to development over the decades has created a major problem for them as well. The recent red tide devastation has been especially difficult for many marine animals, including manatees.
Spending time with this charismatic animals remains one of my finest wildlife experiences. While photographing a story about these animals I found myself never wanting to leave the water. I reluctantly dragged myself away at the end of each day when the sun was setting. With the sense of urgency becoming greater due to these latest toxic water problems, I hope you will take some time to learn more about manatees and help where you can!
#manatees #florida #redtide #conservation #vote


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
A large, male Harp seal blows bubbles in a display of territoriality beneath 25-foot thick pack ice in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. The water temperature here was 28.5-degrees F (almost minus 2 C), but exploring this realm of the harp seal was absolutely stunning. Unlike a frozen lake, the underside of this sea ice is like a mountainous terrain, with peaks and valleys. It is a convoluted and challenging world in which to navigate, at least for a diver, though the seals clearly have it well figured out. Unlike some species of seals, harp seals are not especially interested in humans and don’t want to play. To produce underwater photos I often ‘hid’ amongst the ice and waited for them to dive down through small holes or through leads (cracks) in the the massive ice fields. For a story about these animals for @natgeo I lived on a fishing boat for weeks over two seasons and spent day and night with the seals.

Thinning ice due to climate change over the past decade has caused problems for this species, however. Harp seal pups need two weeks to nurse from their moms, during which time they build up fat and strength. If the ice is thin, then can fall into the sea before they are ready and die. In some, recent years, there has been no ice at all and the pup mortality rate rises dramatically. The future for this species remains uncertain.

#harp # seal #cute #nature #cold #ocean #conservation #climatechange #nikonlove #nikonnofiter #nikonambassador #icediving


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
I’m pleased to announce that I am participating in the National Geographic Image Collection’s Flash Sale. For a limited time, you can purchase an autographed print of my Whale Shark photograph for only $100. Follow the link in my profile to learn more!

I made this photo in Western Australia. A spotter plane told us that they saw a large whale shark swimming slowly offshore, so we positioned our boat well ahead of its path and shut off the engine. I remember slipping into he calm sea and quietly swimming away from the boat. I drifted in the deep blue ocean straining to see for several minutes, but saw nothing. Then, as if it was a mirage, the shark materialized out of the blue, with the detail of its massive form becoming clear as it approached me. Although it was moving pretty slow, it was a challenge to keep up with. I was able to position myself at an angle that allowed me to create this perspective. It has long been one of my favorite pictures and one of my fondest experiences and memories of time in the sea.
In this special Flash Sale, my Whale Shark photo is being paired with the World’s First Underwater Color Photograph. National Geographic boasted of the achievement on the cover of the January 1926 issue: THE FIRST AUTOCHROMES FROM THE OCEAN BOTTOM. As simple as the photo may appear, it took months of experimentation on the part of noted marine biologist W. H. Longley and Charles Martin, director of National Geographic’s photographic lab. The most advanced color process at the time was the autochrome, a glass plate coated with dyed potato starch. But it was slow and required ample lighting—problematic when one wants to photograph underwater. The hogfish is a rather unremarkable subject for a most remarkable photograph. Here, in all its subtle glory, is that very first color underwater image! The heat and humidity of the Tortugas also compounded shooting problems. After many weeks of missed shots, the men eventually made this history-making photograph.

Both photos are available in this unique sale opportunity. Click on the link in my bio or visit
And Swipe to see second photo.

#flashsale #whaleshark


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
An adult, female sperm whale babysits a calf while the calf’s mother is feeding in the deep water below in the eastern Caribbean. Sperm whales are the largest predator on Earth and have been portrayed as monsters throughout human history. But researchers, like Dr. Shane Gero, are shattering such beliefs and are revealing instead an amazing animal with sophisticated behaviors and ‘family values.' This ancient species was swimming in the sea before humans walked upright and possess the largest brains of any animal on the planet. Spending most of their lives in the deep ocean, we rarely see more than brief moments and slowly piece together the puzzle. In the time ahead, more will be learned about their complex societies and cultures. Coverage from an upcoming @natgeo story.
#whales #whaleculture


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - I will be teaching a one-day Photo Master Class on September 22nd at the @davidbrowercenter in Berkeley, California. To register and learn more, follow the link in my profile.

In this class we will focus on the key techniques for achieving success in underwater photography and dissecting images to better understand exactly how they were made. The class will also focus on storytelling and using photography to tell stories journalistically.
I will share my experience from more than four decades of underwater photography and tips for making great pictures. Hope to see you in Berkeley!
#photoworkshop #masterclass


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
On September 21st I will be presenting a lecture at the opening of my photography exhibition, SHARKS, at the @davidbrowercenter in Berkeley, California. The exhibit features dozens of my shark photographs made throughout my career and offers a view of these animals that celebrates their magnificence. I am deeply honored to receive the David Brower Center’s Art/Act award 2018. David Brower has been a hero of mine for decades and a great inspiration. From the photo exhibition - An Oceanic Whitetip Shark swims with a trio of pilotfish as an escort in the waters of The Bahamas. Once the most abundant large animal on Earth (large being defined as more than 100 pounds), the oceanic whitecap’s stocks have plummeted 98% and the species is now on the verge of extinction. They have been hunted largely for their fins used in shark fin soup.
@natgeo #sharks #savesharks #davidbrowercenter


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
My photograph of a school of Yellow Surgeonfish is now available as a Fine Art Print entitled, ‘Painted Reef’ from the @focus_gallery in Chatham, Massachusetts. And you don’t need to travel to Cape Cod to see this print or purchase one of the signed and numbered edition prints. You can visit the gallery’s website by following the link in my Instagram profile.

I made this photo in the waters off Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands (central South Pacific). This island is one of the places some historians believe Amelia Earhart crash landed. I was on a three week expedition for @natgeo exploring these remote reefs with a team of researchers. I prefer to photograph reefs in the early morning or at dusk, when light levels are low and I can create a dreamy effect of the busy motion of animals within these ecosystems. I was in shallow water near sunset, when this school of surgeonfish enveloped me as they swept over the corals, feeding and likely seeking shelter for the night. These fish have a striking, almost hypnotic color pattern on their bodies that morphs into vibrant yellow and purple hues on their fins. As with nearly all animals I’ve encountered in the sea, they were well aware of me, but paid me little attention as they went about their business.
Because of the remoteness of these islands, they have remained relatively unspoiled. Coral cover is substantial and the many animals each play a vital role in the health if the habitat. The Phoenix Islands are owned by the country of Kiribati, which protected this region as a massive marine protected area.
My photograph, ‘Painted Reef,’ can now be owned in one of these large format fine art prints from @focus_gallery.

#fineart #coralreef #kiribati #phoenisislands #pacific #focusgallery


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
A pod of Spinner Dolphins, moms and calves, swim in a coastal bay in the waters off Kona, Hawaii in early morning. These animals forage in deep offshore water at night, then move into shallower regions to socialize and rest in the morning. With the clear water and white sand bottom, they appear to be flying through air. The Hawaiian spinners have a beautiful tri-coloration. These animals are considerably smaller in size compared to species like bottlenose. Spinner dolphins are among the most social of dolphin species, rarely seen alone or even in small numbers.
Spending time in the sea with these animals is very special indeed. As with most creatures I photograph, my presence must be accepted for me to make a picture for I could never swim fast enough to photograph an animal that didn’t want me near. But when animals like dolphins allow me into their world, even for brief periods, I am able to see amazing things. It is these moments that has inspired me for decades to travel widely and to endure many challenges. A small price to pay for the privilege of enriching my soul.
Photograph made under NMFS (NOAA) permit #17941.
#dolphins #hawaii


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
‘PELAGIC PREDATOR’ - My photograph of an Oceanic Whitetip Shark is now available as a large format, signed and numbered fine art print. Available only from @focus_gallery in Chatham, Massachusetts.
I photographed my fist shark in the wild in 1982 and that experience had a profound effect on me. As a photographer, I find sharks an intoxicating subject, a perfect blend of grace and power. They move elegantly through the water yet exude a great confidence. In the decades since that first shark experience I find myself frequently working with these animals, trying to produce photographs that capture their essence. Nature has sculpted them to be perfect for whichever marine ecosystem in which they live. The Oceanic Whitetip in this photograph, is a true pelagic predator, living in the open sea in regions that have been called ocean deserts, where food is few and far between, so they must be especially efficient hunters. Their long pectoral fins are shaped like the wings of a glider, allowing them to cruise over long distances and save energy. The Oceanic Whitetip is a species on the brink however, having been hunted for their fins for decades. Their populations have declined up to 98% throughout much of their range.
On this day, the water was clear and the sun shined brightly in the sky. I dived down to a depth of about 10-meters and waited for the shark to swim into the ideal position, blocking the sun, creating a silhouette and accentuating its form. After lots of waiting and many attempts, I had the image that I had envisioned in my mind’s eye. And now, it is available as an archival, fine art print. Follow the link in my profile to learn more about my collection at the @focus_gallery and see the full sized, large format photograph!

#sharks #oceanicwhitetip #fineart


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
I am taking over the IG feed of the @newenglandaquarium this week, posting some of my favorite shark images!
A pair of Great White Sharks swim through schools of jacks near dusk in the waters off South Australia. Much of what we think about white sharks is not true. They are not merciless hunters, are not always loners and may be far smarter than ever believed. I have always sensed a great cognitive ability in great white sharks, as they often seem to be sizing up a situation and figuring things out. I believe that in the time ahead, science will reveal that these animals are far smarter than ever believed.

Check out @newenglandaquarium to see more of my curated shark photographs!
#sharks #greatwhiteshark #australia #predators


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
A free diver swims above a large whale shark near the surface in the waters off Western Australia. The largest fish in the sea, whale sharks were recently reclassified as an endangered species, with their numbers having being reduced by half according to recent studies. Whale sharks are plankton feeders, often moving slowly near surface waters as they feed. Their populations are being most impacted in regions such as Asia, where there is a demand for their fins.
Swimming with whale sharks has long been one of my favorite experiences. They can be massive in size, yet so gentle, moving gracefully and purposefully through the sea. I feel that they are always quite aware of my presence, but rarely give me much thought. It’s as if they are on an long and ancient journey and I am simply a momentary distraction.
#whaleshark #australia #freedive


Brian Skerry

Photo by @BrianSkerry
‘Presidential Swim’ - My photograph of former US President Barack Obama snorkeling over a coral reef in the waters off Midway Atoll in September 2016. This photo is now available as a Fine Art Print only from @focus_gallery in Chatham, Massachusetts. Click the link in my profile to see the full frame photo and to learn more about my exclusive collection of large format, limited edition, signed and numbered prints available through the Focus Gallery.

Days before this photograph was made, President Obama created the world’s largest marine protected area in the waters surrounding Midway Atoll by expanding the boundaries of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. He traveled here to see firsthand this spectacular underwater ecosystem. I was honored to be invited to join him on this snorkeling adventure. I was on assignment for National Geographic magazine and knew that I needed to get the photo, so I was very focused on the job at hand. But I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of spending time at sea with the president and loved our conversation about the value of protecting the environment and especially the ocean. A few weeks after this, I was invited to the White House and gave President Obama the first copy of this print. Now, it is available to everyone!

Scientists tell us that to have a healthy planet, we must protect at least 40% of Earth’s oceans. Today, only about 3% is protected, so we have a long way to go. But actions such as this, by world leaders, is a positive step in the right direction helping to ensure a vibrant future for all.
#presidentobama #potus #midway #marinereserves #healthyoceans