Shrimp of Bonaire

Our time in the Dutch island of Bonaire in the Lesser Antilles is quickly coming to an end. Our passion is shark photography but this trip was focussed on learning macro photography – you know, the really little stuff. It started off with frustration but slowly produced some good results. These shrimp range in size from 1/4 inch (2-3mm) to about 1 inch (25mm) and some are very difficult to see, especially the transparent ones. Most of the time they are tucked away inside a sponge or an anemone giving few good photo opportunities. As we discovered, perseverance and a bit of good luck are both needed!

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Juvenile Sun Anemone shrimp approximately 1/4 inch (2-3mm) in length

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Squat anemone shrimp on giant anemone

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Pedersen Cleaner Shrimp

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Banded Coral Shrimp

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Unidentified shrimp inside Giant Anemone, Bonaire

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Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp, Bonaire

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Peppermint Shrimp in Sponge (note the crab in the background)

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Juvenile Sun anemone shrimp, Bonaire

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Squat Anemone Shrimp, Bonaire

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Pedersen Cleaner Shrimp Living In A Corkscrew Anemone

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Banded Coral Shrimp

Octopus On The Run

What do you do if you are an octopus out during the day and a diver with a camera spots you? First, you keep still and use camouflage hoping nobody can spot you, but when that fails you need to move. This octopus tried a number of tactics from trying to blend in, making a run for it, to puffing up to what I assume is to make itself look bigger. Here is a picture sequence that lasted less than a minute until it found a hole to retreat into. Safety at last!Octopus-0064octopus7octopus6octopus10octopus2octopus9octopus4octopus8octopus1octopus11octopus12

Finally…. Tiger Sharks!

In South Africa we were supposed to see tiger sharks but they eluded us. In Mozambique we were supposed to see tiger sharks but once again we didn’t see any. Finding a specific shark species around the world is hardly guaranteed as these are wild animals that swim the oceans. However, we were told that if you want to see tiger sharks then you need to go to the world famous “Tiger Beach” to have the highest probability of seeing them. So here we are and finally we have seen tiger sharks!

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Pair of Tiger sharks, Tiger Beach bahamas

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Shane, our Tiger Shark handler

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Female tiger shark at Fish Tales, bahamas

 

Tiger sharks are big sharks. They are generally between 10-14 feet in length and weigh between 850- 1400 pounds. We encountered 8 different tiger sharks and two were in the 14 foot range. Being a few feet from them makes you realize just how big they are and how insignificant you are. Truly amazing creatures and a privilege to share the ocean with them!

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Tricia photographing a very large tiger shark, Bahamas

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Larry photographing a tiger shark at tiger beach

Tiger sharks are intelligent and it is important to maintain eye contact with them. As long as they knew that you were watching them they would keep back about 10 feet or more. But take your eyes off them and they will get close and personal with you. They had this habit of trying to sneak up from behind so we needed to constantly be looking over our shoulders for them. A few times we had to bump them off with our cameras as they got a little too friendly. Perhaps not for most people, but it is very cool and surreal to be face to face with a 1400 pound tiger shark! You can’t help wonder what they are thinking as they swim by and stare you down.

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Feisty Female Tiger shark named Jitterbug

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Tiger shark cruising the reef at Fish Tales dive site

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Tiger shark north of Grand Bahama Island

From Safari To Sharks

Strange to be photographing lions and leopards in the Serengeti National Park in Africa one week and then photographing sharks in the Bahamas about a week later! We departed from West Palm Beach Florida and headed to the famous “Tiger Beach” off of Grand Bahamas Island in hopes of finding tiger sharks. The Dolphin Dream, a 83 foot ocean expedition liveaboard, was our home for the next week and we were well looked after by Captain Scott, Gerard, Shane & Heidi. We sailed through the night, cleared customs in the Bahamas in the morning and headed to a spot to do a few checkout dives in the afternoon to make sure our gear was working fine.  It wasn’t long before we were taking photos of lemon sharks which commonly inhabit this area. Day 1 was all about lemon sharks.

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Lemon Shark, Bahamas

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Lemon shark with remoras attached getting a free ride in the Bahamas

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Lemon Shark in clear blue water near Grand Bahama Island

Sharks are opportunistic feeders and lemon sharks are no exception. They are slowly swimming about searching for food but once it appears they quickly shift gears and the action can get lively. These sharks discovered food in the sand and the competition to get there first is fierce. Notice a second shark below the first one in the second photograph.

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Lemon Sharks Looking for food in the sand, Bahamas

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Lemon sharks competing for food at the Anchor Chain dive site, Bahamas

Lemon sharks are easy to identify as the first and second dorsal fin (the fins on top of their backs) are almost the same size whereas most other sharks the back dorsal fin is much smaller. These sharks can reach 11 feet in length but are commonly found in the 7 to 10 foot range which are the size that we photographed. Their eyes are a bit smaller than other sharks and they often swim with their mouths partially open.

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Lemon Shark Cruising Through the Bahamas

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Pair of Lemon sharks north of Grand Bahama Island

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Lemon Shark at Anchor Chain Dive site, Bahamas

One of the new photographic techniques we are trying to master is what is called an over-under where you place your camera 1/2 in the water and 1/2 out. This captures the shark in the water and at the same time shows the sky. We tried these as the sun was going down at the end of the day. It gives a very unique and different perspective of these lemon sharks. Not bad photos for our first attempt at “lemon-snaps”! Thanks to Terry Steeley of In The Blue Photography for all his advice about this technique.

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Pair of Lemon sharks, Bahamas photographed at sunset

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Lemon shark, Bahamas using over-under technique at sunset

Antelope: So Many Varieties!

Okay, we think we got these names all correct. There are Dik-Dik, Klipspringer, Topi, Reedbuck, Impala, Thompson’s Gazelle, Grant’s Gazelle, Waterbuck and Bushbuck. That makes 9 different species we photographed. A few others were too far away to get good pictures. We are not counting Wildebeest as they doing their great migration and were on a previous post. So here it goes:

The Dik-Dik is the smallest antelope we photographed and weighs 3-6 kg: smaller than most dogs. They are monogamous and are found in pairs. Very small and very cute.

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The Klipspringer is slightly bigger than the Dik-Dik at 8-18 kg. They are nocturnal and prefer rocky terrain which they navigate quite easily.

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The Impala is a very abundant medium sized antelope. They can be found in large herds when food is plentiful.

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The Waterbuck is a large antelope with the males reaching 300 kg. They always live near water and use it to escape from predators.

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The Thompson’s Gazelles is one of the smaller gazelles and are very fast. They will run in a zig-zag pattern when pursued by a predator like a cheetah.

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The Reedbuck is a very plain coloured antelope that has a distinct dark circle under it’s ear. We found these along the river in the reeds so hence the name.

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The Topi has very unique colouring and are a medium sized antelope. The males can weigh up to 155 kg. This female has calves with her.

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The Grant’s Gazelle looks very similar to the Thompson’s Gazelle but is much larger. They are often seems together which makes identification much easier.

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Finally, The Bushbuck which we think is the most beautiful of the 9 we photographed. These antelope live in pairs but we did not see the female.

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Are Monkeys Cuter Than Baboons?

It was inevitable. The Olive Baboons and the Vervet Monkeys in the Serengeti National Park finally got there own post. Both of these primates have so many different sides to their personality and looks. First, let’s look at the Vervet Monkeys which I think most people would agree are cute.

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Next, let us look at the much larger Olive Baboons which I think most people would agree are not so cute. Especially with that butt, although admittedly, it is colourful.

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So then, I guess a Vervet Monkey mother with her small infant becomes even cuter.

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But does an Olive Baboon mother carrying a small infant become more cute? I don’t know but I would argue that a baboon infant is cute even when it’s a baboon.

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Vervet Monkeys are just at home in the trees or on the ground. They are never far from a tree and if a predator shows up then up the tree they go.

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Olive Baboons tend to spend a lot of time on the ground walking from spot to spot. We found them in the trees when they were feeding. I assume they sleep in trees at night.

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So in conclusion, we think monkeys are cuter than baboons so they get an extra picture!

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Meeting Cheetahs in the Serengeti

We might as well admit it. Yes, we were more than lucky on this trip. Not only did we see numerous lions and a leopard with her cub (a very rare experience) but we also had the opportunity to get very close to some cheetahs which is not a common occurrence. We suspect that these four cheetahs were either a mother with her 3 older cubs that will soon leave her or four young siblings hanging together since recently leaving their mother. Escaping the hot African sun is always a priority so finding a tree with a bit of shade to sleep under is important.

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Cheetahs have spots just like leopards but are easy to differentiate because their face has a “teardrop” marking under their eyes. They also have very long legs and their head is small in proportion to their body compared to other cats in the Serengeti.

 

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The cheetah finds a tall lookout to scan the horizon for potential prey. Here they are using an old termite mound which is just slightly higher than the surrounding savannah.

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The cheetah is the fastest animal in the world and can reach speeds of 110 kilometers per hour. They can accelerate to this speed in just 3 seconds which is the technique they use to hunt. However, this speed can only be maintained for a few seconds so they must make their kill fast or the prey will escape.

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