A playful baby humpback whale passes by, rolling onto its back, belly up towards the light while its mother rests below. Every winter the south pacific population of humpback whales travels from Antarctica to Tonga and its neighboring islands to socialize, sing, and raise their new born calves, the next generation of humpbacks. They are curious, social animals that will often interact with other species, including humans.
We had a string of murky water days, a huge algae bloom (can’t confirm exactly what it was or cause). It meant that the photos were junk unless the whales came within arms reach of you. And then, an opportunity. Jellyfish bloom. They were scattered around. We had joked about getting photos of jellyfish and whales together but everything has to line up. Two days of jellyfish everywhere but not many whale encounters. I even got stung on my lips. And then day three, i saw it. A jelly, drifting near the whales. I had one chance. Not wanting to disturb the resting calf and mother, I let all the air out of my lungs to sink without moving my limbs, dropping slowly into the depths, my empty lungs compressing. Focusing underwater with thousands of particles is very difficult. There was no time to swap my camera’s focus setting, and as the jellyfish drifted in the current, I wondered if my opportunity was drifting with it. It’s not fun holding your breath when you have no air in your lungs and no time to breathe up. A few photos and I was done. Desperate for air I kicked up to the surface. For every great photograph we make, there’s many more that failed. When I first got my underwater housing, i cut off the top of 90 % of shots, trying to frame without the viewfinder. This one is definitely not perfect but it is one of my favorite from this season. Two very different species passing by, possibly not even aware of the other. If you want to join me next year free diving with humpbacks (and jellyfish if we’re lucky) or you want to see more whale photos, head over to @dancewithwhales
Night Hunter I was amazed to see this lion using the lights and sound of our jeep to hunt down a wildebeest. As we drove through the grasses she would stalk just behind the headlights. It was a very surprising symbiotic relationship. When the wildebeest would look up, she would crouch to not be seen, and our jeep would come to a halt so as not to spook the animal. There were many misses and she would have to try for another animal, until she eventually got on, the rest of the pride swooped in to take down the animal, eating it alive. This was from a moment she looked up, at something in the distance, her face full of fresh blood. I’m not sure how to feel about how humans have changed the hunting habits of lions. On one hand we have decimated their populations, maybe a little help is not such a bad thing. As a whole our influence is not got for these animals, but they are certainly smart enough to adapt and evolve quickly. Maybe they can thrive in the world we have created.
Why must we bring a species to the brink of extinction before we make an effort to protect them? Many specie of whales were almost hunted to extinction for their oil. We usually stop the killing when it’s not longer lucrative. Much of the time, the fate of entire societies of creatures lays in the hands of profit, and what can make the most money. Even then, we undervalue nature’s economic value. If we admit we are a greedy species, it is time to put more value on preserving ecosystems and their inhabitants, as a means of safeguarding our future. There are little things you can do like using less plastic, eating locally, and having less than 2 children. Here we have two very different sized animals coexisting, a fin whale (2nd largest animal to ever have lived) and a common dolphin. Out of frame, us humans, for a moment free diving along side the giant and it’s friends.
The underwater world is strange place. On land, we live in a world of air, where we are pulled to the ground and drops of water fall through the sky, we call rain. Beneath the surface, it is the opposite. We are tethered to the surface, and in a world filled with water, it is drops of air that fall upward. @_charyse