A two-day old humpback whale calf rests near its mother in the waters off the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. This population of humpbacks spends the summers feeding in Antarctica, then migrate to the warmers waters in winter where calves are born. The bond between moms and calves is strong, with calves spending their first year with their mothers, during which time they nurse and are given protection while they learn behaviors essential to survival. Although much has been learned about this species throughout decades of research, many mysteries remain to be revealed with these complex societies in the sea. Coverage from my upcoming story in @natgeo #whales#culture#southpacific#humpbackwhales#parenting
Photo by @BrianSkerry A Southern Right Whale and diver swim together over a shady sea floor in New Zealand’s Auckland Islands (sub-antarctic) during wintertime. These enormous whales can reach sizes of 45-feet long and weights of 70-tons. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, Southern Right Whale populations have slowly recovered due to protection. Their cousins, the North Atlantic Right Whales however, remain the most endangered whale on Earth, with a populations of only about 450 remaining. This species is an ‘urban whale’ and lives along the Eastern Seaboard of North America traveling from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Florida each year. During their migrations, they frequently become entangled in fishing gear and die. Ship strikes also kill these whales each year. Despite these devastating problems, solutions exist to save them. Researchers are working with commercial fisherman (lobstermen) in New England to test new lines that will break easier should a whale become entangled. To learn more about Right Whale problems and solutions check out @newenglandaquarium and @andersoncabotcenter #rightwhales#endangeredspecies#nz#newengland
Photo by @BrianSkerry A series of photos showing an Orca unsuccessfully attacking a Southern Sea Lion pup on the beach in Punta Norte, Argentina. Orcas are the largest species of dolphin and are highly intelligent. Many dolphins have developed special feeding strategies to catch prey, techniques that are unique to the location in which they live. This one family of orca living in Patagonia have developed a feeding strategy that has them beaching themselves in order to grab a sea lion pup. Their timing must be perfect and they must select a precise location where the geography is ideal. My Nikon camera shoot 14 frames per second, so this series happened in less than a second. Photographed on assignment for @natgeo. #wildlifepredation#orca#patagonia#nikonambassador#nikonlove
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
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.
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 http://ngic.photos/Skerry1 And Swipe to see second photo.
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
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
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
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.