Thomas Peschak@thomaspeschak

National Geographic Photographer // Storyteller // Marine Biologist //Conservationist// NatGeo Explorer

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Scuba divers and manta rays interact yin yang like on the sandy seabed of Hanifaru Bay, Maldives. I made this photograph before scuba diving was prohibited in this marine protected area and today only snorkeling is allowed. As visitor numbers increased after 2010 this measure was later introduced to give the mantas a depth refuge where they can feed away from the close proximity of people. @mantatrust #scuba #diving #manta #maldives


Hidden behind a veil of silver fish, it is almost unbelievable how a 4m + white shark can almost disappear in an instant. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time working with this species of shark, its ability to camouflage so well, even in the absence of fish can be a bit disconcerting.... #sharks #ocean #underwater #diving


As s photographer I like playing with shadows to reveal unseen elements or add a touch of mystery to a picture. While shadows are a frequently used tool in my photographic toolbox on land, it is rare that I get to use them underwater. One exception was this magically calm and clear day off La Paz, Baja California, Mexico, when a whale shark and its perfectly formed shadow swam past me in shallow water at close range. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine in collaboration with @whalesharkmexico and @maresmexicanos

La Paz, Baja California Sur

This is a marine iguana, the only sea going lizard in the world.....but I prefer to call them Ocean Godzilla. They featured prominently in my 2017 @natgeo magazine story on climate change in the Galápagos Islands and despite their fierce, dragon like appearance they are very sensitive to changes in ocean temperature. They rely exclusively on cold water seaweeds for nourishment and quickly die off as the water becomes too warm. Photographed in collaboration with @darwinfound #galapagosnationalpark @pelayosalinas #ocean #godzilla #underwater


Common dolphins zero in on a few dozen sardines that survived the most intense underwater experience of my life. Less than an hour before I shot this picture tens of thousands of these fish formed a house size baitball. In the frenzy that followed it was deconstructed just a few feet away from me, eaten one sardine mouthful at a time by an armada of sharks, dolphins, whales and seabirds. Sardines are the lifeblood of South Africa’s marine realm and an important food source for many of the ocean’s top predators. #southafrica #dolphins #ocean #diving #underwater @natgeocreative


If there was such a thing as a time machine I would use it to photograph the oceans long before overfishing, plastic pollution and climate change degraded the marine realm. Most underwater locations I explored over the last 25 years are mere shadows of once riotous abundance that now only exists in the memories of elders, in historical texts and in the archaeological record. Cabo Pulmo in Baja California Mexico is one of the rare exceptions. Diving into this huge otherworldly school of bigeye jacks is probably as close to time travel as I will ever come. There simple wasn’t room for anymore fish and I imagine that much of our oceans once looked like this. Shot on assignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @maresmexicanos @conanp_mx #mexico #ocean #cabopulmo #baja #timemachine #timetravel #diving #underwater #scuba

Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo

First of all apologies for the long instagram hiatus. I was on @natgeo assignments in the Western Pacific and Southern Ocean with practically no internet. I will be sharing new images from my latest adventures soon, but in the meantime here is one of my favorite images from Hanifaru in the Maldives. Encountering a whale shark or manta ray individually is incredible enough but getting both together in one frame is a very special treat.

Hanifaru Bay

For over 15 years sharks were my favorite and most enduring photographic subjects. I recently dialed back my coverage of sharks in favor of less well known endangered species and ecosystems, but I still love spending time in the ocean with them. After 5 years of documenting white sharks (2000-2005) off Gansbai near Cape Town I turned my attention to South Africa’s hottest shark hotspot, a offshore reef system called Aliwal Shoal. On a really good day I have encountered up to 8 different tiger sharks, half a dozen bulls, raggies, scalloped hammerheads, duskies and often more than 50 blacktip sharks. Drifting in the blue and watching parades of sharks swim in and out of view continues to be one of my happiest and most enduring memories. @natgeo @natgeocreative #aliwal #southafrica #sharks #ocean #diving

Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal

Galapagos marine iguanas are the world's only ocean going lizards. They graze on cold water seaweeds and increases in sea temperature due to climate change will have detrimental effects. Warm water = No nutritious seaweeds = No iguanas. In this photograph a marine iguana scratches its nose on the claws of a dead and desiccated compatriot. If temperatures continue to warm these Galapagos icons could become the first to disappear. To find out more and help follow @darwinfound Shot on assignment for @natgeo #climatechangegalapagos #galapagos #iguanas #hot


Some of the most unusual animal behavior I ever witnessed was on Wolf Island in the Galapagos. What to do when you are a small bird living on a remote island and there is practically no food (seeds, insects) available during the dry season? If you are a Galapagos sharp-beaked ground finch then you take inspiration from Dracula. To survive they vigorously peck at the base of Nazca boobie (a seabird) flight feathers and drink their blood. Shot #onassignment for @natgeo magazine in collaboration with @darwinfound @saveourseasfoundation @fonassociation and #paulmangellfoundation #vampire #dracula #galapagosnationalpark #galapagos


A northern elephant seal pup curiously inspects its reflection in the glass dome of my underwater camera. It is always a very humbling experience when a wild animal decides that I am worthy of its curiosity. Once hunted to near extinction in Pacific Ocean, today the species has made a remarkable conservation comeback. Check out the background of this image (bottom right) for a quick primer how these elephant seals orchestrated their recovery :-) Shot #onassignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @maresmexicanos


The water in Baja California's San Ignacio lagoon is usually green and murky and photographing the gray whales that come here to mate and give birth underwater is usually very tricky. I spent almost a month working this lagoon and for a short but very memorable 45 minutes I hit the photo jackpot. Clear blue water and more whales then I knew what to do with. Shot on assignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @maresmexicanos #mexico #baja #whales

San Ignacio, Baja California Sur