A spinner dolphin calf (in the foreground) with a plastic bag encircling its head swims with her mother in the waters off Oahu, Hawaii. While working on a dolphin story on assignment for @natgeo I saw this mother dolphin playing with a plastic bag. Dolphins often pick up objects floating in the sea, such as seaweed or leaves and play games, passing the object to another dolphin swimming behind them. In this case the adult dolphin passed the bag to her calf. The calf picked up the plastic bag and in the process the bag slipped over her head and formed a ring behind her eyes. I was swimming as hard as possible alongside and was trying to reach the calf to pull off the bag, but she stayed just beyond my reach. It was frustrating and horrifying to see this happening so closely and yet be unable to help. Eventually, the young dolphin leap into the air, twirling around, as spinner dolphins do to dislodge parasites (hence the name spinner dolphins). On her second attempt, the bag flew off of her head and she was free! I picked up the bag, brought it to the boat and disposed of it once back on land. Plastic is a serious problem for every creature on the planet.
Photo by @BrianSkerry
Happy World Oceans Day! June 8, 2018
On this day, when the world celebrates the magnificence of Earth’s oceans, I urge you to think about the need for conservation of our water planet.
The majority of where life can exist on Earth is water - 98% of our biosphere - yet only about 3% os the oceans are protected. Science tells us that for a healthy planet, at least 30% of the oceans must be protected.
Every other breath we takes comes from the sea, more than 50% of the oxygen needed to live is generated by the ocean. So if for no other reason than our own survival, ocean ecosystems must be conserved.
The oceans give us so many riches and taking care of the sea means a healthy future for all. #worldoceansday
A male Shortfin Pilot Whale (center) carries a dead calf in its mouth, while swimming with two female Pilot Whales off Kona, Hawaii. The calf, whose skin is beginning to slough off, is likely the offspring of this social group. Throughout history, there have been occasional reports of cetaceans (dolphins and whales) caring for their dead, though direct evidence and photos such as this one are quite rare.
A Humboldt Squid expels a cloud of ink at night in the waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. These animals can grow to be thirteen feet long and they feature a parrot-like beak that can remove quarter-sized chunks of flesh from their prey. The arms and tentacles of Humboldt Squid are lined with as many as 24,000 tiny ‘teeth,’ which they use to attack and hold their prey. Historically found in southern waters, Humboldt Squid have been forced northward by climate change and warming sea temperatures, with reports of Humboldt Squid sightings off of the Pacific Northwest of North America and in Alaska.
A polar bear wanders across pack ice along the floe edge in the Arctic near Navy Board Inlet, Canada. The decline of sea ice is having an incredibly adverse impact on these animals.
As a result of anthropogenic climate change, it is predicted that - within the next several years - the North Pole will be free of ice in the summer, meaning that ships will be able to pass over the pole for the first time in recorded history.
While such a trend may prove beneficial for shipping costs, such climate change threatens all of us. With each square mile of ice lost, more and more of the sun's energy becomes trapped in the atmosphere, expediting further climate change in the future.
Photo by @BrianSkerry.
A Batfish glides through the warm waters off of the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, feeding on plankton in the late day light filtering through the shallow sea. The Ogasawara Islands, 620 miles south of mainland Japan, are often referred to as the “Galápagos of the Orient” for their immense biological diversity.
This photograph is featured on the cover of my monograph - “Ocean Soul” - which includes a huge variety of stories and photographs from my adventures underwater. Follow the link in my bio to pick up a copy!
Photo by @BrianSkerry.
Two Oceanic Whitetip Sharks near the surface in The Bahamas; one of the few locations left where these animals can be found. Oceanic Whitetip populations have been decimated due to the demand for their fins, which are prized for shark fin soup. Like the American Bison, an animal that was once abundant and then hunted to the brink, only a fraction of Oceanic Whitetip shark populations remain today. Their numbers have declined 93% between 1995 and 2010 alone. Recovery will be difficult, because they reach sexual maturity only by age 7 and have small litters of pups every one to two years.
Living in the pelagic zone - the open ocean - Oceanic Whitetips are shaped like aircraft, with long pectoral fins that allow them to glide efficiently over long distances, expending little energy.
Today is the last day to purchase signed prints from @natgeocreative’s Flash Sale. Click on the link in my profile to see the full collection of globetrotting prints available for $100.
In the photo that I contributed to the sale, a California Sea Lion investigates a drifting kelp paddy teeming with fish in the waters of Cortes Banks, located 100-miles off San Diego, California. Giant kelp frequently breaks free of the sea floor and gathers in ‘paddies’ that drift on the surface, attracting marine life. Cortes Banks is an underwater mountain range that has created a unique habitat of kelp forest and surf grass on the bottom of the ocean and has enabled a variety of pelagic marine life to thrive in the water above.
Visit the link in my profile to see the full collection of images. Remember, the sale ends at midnight tonight. #california#sea#lion#cortes#banks#san#diego#underwater#photography#national#geographic#photooftheday#nat#geo#flashsale#sale
Photo by @BrianSkerry
Saturday April 14th is #NationalDolphinDay! This photograph shows a large pod of spinner dolphins socializing while swimming over a white sand bottom in the waters of Oahu, Hawaii. I was freediving to depths of 60-feet to make pictures of these animals. The water was warm and blue and being in the presence of these dolphins was hypnotic. Spinner dolphins are among the most social of dolphin species and are almost always seen in larger groups. Dolphins have the second largest brain relative to body size in the animal kingdom, after humans, but their world is vastly different than our own. Dolphins see much of their world acoustically, using echolocation (sonar) to determine objects and distances. When they sleep, they keep half of their brain awake, because they are voluntary breathers and also must remain vigilant for predators. But what else are they doing with those big brains in the sea? In the time ahead, perhaps these answers will be revealed.
Photographed on assignment for @natgeo with a Nikon D4 camera and 17-35mm lens. Photograph made under NMFS permit #17941 #dolphins#hawaii#underwater#nikonlove#nikonnofilter#nikonambassador@nikonusa@hecsaquatic