August 10th, 2011

shark species week #4

Silvertip shark and the diver, Tiputa pass, Rangiroa atoll, French Polynesia

Olympus 3040 in native housing, natural light

this image is 5% cropped from top and left, some garbage removed in right top corner in Photoshop

Location on Google Maps

Wikipedia reference

Moving up the shark hierarchy again - and it's time for silvertip shark to take spotlight ! Silvertip is definitely one of my favorite shark - it is highly social. They come very-very close to the divers, sometimes following them for several minutes. This of course can be bit dangerous, but presents amazing opportunities for photos. Take a look at the image above - it was taken with compact camera in lucid Rangiroa waters in 2006 and despite the fact that very unsophisticated equipment was used it looks very professional! I believe compact cameras can do really good work in good visibility and lighthing conditions - this picture was taken at the depth of 18m. No color correction was used on original data except very little contrast increase.

Silvertips can grow up to 3 meters - and typically ones I saw exceeded 2.5m easily. My most memorable encounter was in Rangiroa, where I even managed to take rare picture of shark in "official" treat pose - check this wikipedia article - This picture is still one of the kind in my extensive shark collection... I saw silvertips in Cocos island, and despite knowing that they are quite often show up in shark Reef at Fiji I never had chance to see one there in my 5 visits. Oh well, it's nature ! Another interesting fact about silvertips is that they diet includes smaller grey reef sharks - ones which we discussed in previous post - so you can look at this sequence of posts this week as at foodchain sequence too ! :-)

As part of the social chit-chat part traditional for my posts - one of the interesting perks of taking good images on Sardine Run is that every year they are highly sought by photo-agencies working with UK tabloids, providing access to the millions - readers of this popular media like stunning and sensational pictures, and Sardine Run footage is exactly like that. I made it in 2008 and 2010, 2009 it was sequence by Jason Heller, and now it was time for my buddy and partner for the trip this year Dimitry namgul Miroshnikov to take spotlight with his fantastic images - check this Daily Telegraph online publication - which I'm sure is just one of many. On the same page you can see links to the Telegraph footage version of 2010 by me and 2009 by Jason. Let's see who is going to rock UK tabloids next season - it's interesting friendly competition between great photographers ! :-)

And last remark for today - I really liked this post on recent shameful "anti-garbage" action taken by crowds manipulated and used by unethical and strangely popular in Russia person - I can tell that history is repeating itself - you know where all this will lead - check this Wikipedia article for reminder. I was shocked that even one of the most respected LJ personas - - fell into this PR trap. I was pleased though that top two Russian LJ bloggers did not participate in this shameful display of slave-minded people unity. There is still hope ! ;) Please let me know what do you think about all this !

shark species week #5

Scalloped hammerhead shark close-up, Dirty Rock, Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Canon EOS 350D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm, single strobe Sea&Sea YS-110

this image is 5% cropped from right and top, very minor contrast adjustment in Photoshop, very minor garbage cleanup in Photoshop

Location on Google Maps

Wikipedia reference

Moving further up shark hierarchy - or even not really up, more like sideways. Scalloped hammerhead, one of the hammerhead sharks species is like most advanced, evolution-wise very new shark, top model :-) Definitely one of my favorites ! It has very unusual shape of the head to enhance vision and also to improve electric field sensitivity by having more receptors distributed over wider area. It is also believed that head is used for two more purposes - to push pray towards bottom while hunting and to stabilize body during turning maneuvers. Scalloped hammerheads are known to congregate into huge schools - for the reasons fully unknown to the science. This magnificent animal is full of mysteries and questions which still needed to be answered.

I saw hammerhead shark first time in my life in Cocos island in 2007, one of the greatest shark sanctuaries in the world. It was followed by great sightings during trip to Galapagos in 2008. Interestingly enough that hammerheads are often seen in various places in Japan where I lived for long time, like Izu peninsula, but I never had chance to see them where. Population of hammerheads is dropping dramatically around the world due to the shark fin trade, and this shark unlike previous species from my shark week has true "endangered" status - it is said that in Cocos population dropped as much as 80% or more during last 15 years.

Scalloped hammerhead can grow up to 4 meters - they are quite big, but during day time don't present much danger to the divers.

In regard to the hammerhead sharks, I heard today some preliminary sensational news which can turn around whole thing about "who is the biggest shark in the sea" question. I'm waiting for more info to follow - this is going to be very interesting if it is true ! :-)