The Law of the Wild – Revised?

042701cbc8b067a818a0FA34BDBF@OwnerPC 300x136 The Law of the Wild   Revised?The Law Of The Wild says kill only when you are hungry. Photographer Michel Denis-Huot, who captured these amazing pictures on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara in October last year, said he was astounded by what he saw:

“These three brothers (cheetahs) have been living together since they left their mother at about 18 months old,’ he said. ‘On the morning we saw them, they seemed not to be hungry, walking quickly but stopping sometimes to play together. ‘At one point, they met a group of impala who ran away.. But one youngster was not quick enough and the brothers caught it easily’.”

These extraordinary scenes followed.

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042601cbc8b067a7f190FA34BDBF@OwnerPC 300x235 The Law of the Wild   Revised?

042501cbc8b067a7f190FA34BDBF@OwnerPC 300x168 The Law of the Wild   Revised?

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The images, which ran in the Daily Mail, show the cheetahs playing with the impala and the sequence ends with the impala running away, you assume to safety and a happy ending. But that’s not the whole story. When you look at Denis-Huot’s website, he posts the entire series, which ends with the big cats eating the impala. Sorry, no Disney ending here.

The picture sequence shows how complicated the animal world really is, and how often we want to simplify it by putting our own human vision on it. Cheetahs are hunters at heart, and those in the pictures probably didn’t kill the impala right away because they weren’t so hungry, or because it was a different time of the day than when they usually hunt, or for some other reason. Many animals, though, show kindness, and even to people. There are sometimes reports of dolphins rescuing fishermen from capsized boats, and there was even one recently about a pod of dolphins helping a lost dog. Naturalists like Bernd Heinrich have written about how ravens will share food with each other in the dead of winter, and scientists Frans de Waal have studied how primates will help their sick and take care of their elders. We may have a lot in common with animals, but we also need to respect them for who they are, not for what we think they are. This is a truth that I discover, and share with you, on so many of my BigAnimals trips.

Follow me on Twitter. Look at my How I Did It series on Facebook. I tell you how I made some of my iconic photographs.

[If you would like to join Amos on one of his Big Animal Adventures, let Dive Mom know and she will take care of all of your reservations with Amos]

Mysteries of the Artic

polar bear 300x172 Mysteries of the ArcticThe arctic is a place of great mystery, and even more so these days, when it’s never been warmer up there. Yes, that’s right. While a lot of the US is seeing snow, ice and excessive cold, the place that we think of as being the coldest on the planet is going through a warm season. Scientists are reporting the arctic just had the least amount of sea ice on record in January. Air temperature is way above normal, too, even as “down south” people are shoveling their cars out of the snow.

A warmer Arctic

The experts are trying to understand if these two things are related. It’s well established that a warmer arctic is a fact – and it’s been going on like that steadily in recent years, but scientists don’t know yet if some of that arctic air mneung south is a trend or a blip. Just another mystery of the arctic, I think.

Here’s another arctic mystery for you: Polar bears might be facing their own population crisis. Why? Polar bears rely on sea ice when they hunt. They use it to get to the seals – their main food. Researchers have discovered that as the arctic becomes warmer, sea levels have dropped and there are fewer newborn polar bear cubs. Pregnant polar bear mothers go into hiding in a winter den and fast during part of their eight-month term. If they haven’t eaten enough before they do, they might not be able to sustain themselves. Scientists believe that having less food makes it less likely for a mother polar bear to give birth to a surviving cub. So there’s a relationship between the polar bear mom’s ability to survive and warmer weather. Since things seem to be changing in the wilds of the arctic, it seems like there’s no time like the present to have a look around there yourself.

Experience the High Arctic of Canada

I’d like you to experience some of the mystery, in mid-April. Will you join me? I’m leading an expedition to the high arctic of Canada, where we’ll see polar bear families emerging after months in their snow dens. We’ll see polar bear cubs learning to walk and play and track them when they head out to the edge of an ice floe to hunt for seals.

The days up there are 18 hours long – perfect for wildlife photography. Put your camera to your eye and you’ll capture spectacular images of baby polar bears and their mothers, the Aurora Borealis, endless white landscapes, seals and whales. We’ll have an opportunity explore Inuit camp life, too. There are only two spaces left on this trip, so I’d ask that if you would like to join us, please book today.

[If you would like to Join Amos on his Artic Adventure, please let Dive Mom know and she will help you set the whole thing up.]

Jules Verne

Underwater explorers like me owe a lot to the novelist Jules Verne, who was born 183 years ago. Google honored him with one of their “doodles,” but in that doodle is a clue to Verne’s greatness – it’s an image that reminds you of the electric submarine, the Nautilus, from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

google verne 300x117 Jules Verne

When Verne’s words were published in 1869, electric submarines didn’t exist – they were just something out of his imagination. As National Geographic wrote, Verne also predicted that news wouldn’t just come from newspapers, but would be “spoken to subscribers,” in the way that radio and television news happens today. He thought of that in a story that was published nearly thirty years before the first radio broadcast.

The Verne list of firsts goes on. In 1865, in From the Earth the Moon, he thought there could be such a thing as a solar-powered spacecraft, and of course he wrote about traveling to the moon long before the first astronaut got there. He even thought of skywriting, videoconferencing, the Taser, and landing a spaceship in the ocean for a “splashdown.”

The mention of water brings us back to the ocean, and the visionary thoughts of Verne make it possible for me to do what I do today – explore the hidden depths and the distant lands that I want to share with you. Verne didn’t have any engineering training at all, just a lot of imagination. That’s all you need to come along on an adventure with me. My polar bear expedition to the high arctic has an April 17 departure and there are just two spaces left. Will you join me?

[If you would like to Join Amos on one of his Big Animal adventures, you can send Dive Mom a note or contact Amos directly.  Be sure to tell him that you read about his trips here.]

Striped Marlin, Scuba Diving – an Underwater Photography Expedition


Half Dozen Marlins Chasing Bait Ball

Half a Dozen Marlins Chasing a Bait Ball

In the Company of Striped Marlin – an Underwater Expedition

The first year I led my Striped Marlin Expedition to Todos Santos in Mexico, it was splendid. Last year was almost a bust because we hardly saw any Striped Marlin. The reason for that was the water temperature rose to over 81 degrees, and that meant there were not many plankton and the sardines had nothing to feed on. The marlin somehow figured that out and almost totally avoided the normal pattern.

This year with support and reports from the University in La Paz and the local fisherman, I have understood that the marlin will show up, but later than last year. What you see below are images from the first two days here. The sea is placid, the wind very calm and water temperature is between 76 – 78 – just right for the plankton bloom, the sardine are feeding and … the marlin are here. Take a look:

Giant Bait Ball

Giant Bait Ball

Light Marlins Bait Ball

Light Marlins Bait Ball

Malin Feeding

Malin Feeding

My TeamMy Team of Guests

Chris and Jerry were with me last year – they understood very well what was happening with the water temperature and feeding patterns. We did all that was humanly possible to show them a good time and we succeeded to a limited level. Both were so impressed by the effort they have joined me again and they are here with us and they are so happy that they counted on my research. I am so proud to be able to deliver to such loyal guests, pictured above.

Every day we leave at 6:30 am along the western cost of Baja (on the Pacific side) and stay out till 5pm – watching the Frigate birds feeding action and formation. It’s the birds who actually give us information about the marlin. When a formation of two dozen or more Frigates is tight and close over the water I know the birds are feeding on sardines below – and the marlin are in pursuit.

All day we jump in and out of the water. The encounters last from just one minute up to sometimes 20 minutes. It’s a dance among the birds and fish. The “bait ball” of sardines, the Striped Marlin below, and the birds above all work in opposite directions from each other. The sardines run for their life but they are not much of a match for the quantity and skills of the birds up above and the marlin under the water. Both the flying and swimming predators are relentless and work the bait ball till it is consumed. It’s dramatic and exciting, especially when visibility ranges from 80 to 150 feet plus … next year we will come back in December. There will be room for only four people to join in the adventure, to be in the company of the ocean giants like the Striped Marlin.

Eric Keibler is putting together one of these trips with me.  Remember, there are only 4 spaces so you need to call him quickly!

In the Company of Big Animals

I want to introduce you to Amos Nachoum, a self-proclaimed Ambassador of the Big Animals. He is an award winning photographer who has publised photographs in magazines around the world including National Geographic. In a presentation Amos made top the Explorer’s Club in New York City, he said “to live up to that ambassador role I’ll be in the city, presenting my best stories and information about some of the most fragile regions of the underwater world. I’ll be showing and discussing photographs from my expeditions around the world and will probably include a few “classics” from the hundreds of my images that have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Le Figaro, and Der Spiegel. You can also see more of my images on my website, plus news about my latest expeditions. It’s all part of spreading my message that only through observation and interaction with these animals can people understand and respect some of the most impressive citizens of our planet. In a few words, “you have to go there and experience this firsthand.” Amos recorded a presentation for Google entitled “In the Company of Big Animals.” You will hear Amos and he talks about his expeditions and shos his photographs. Sit back, pour yourself a cocktail and be prepared to be wowed…

The Misunderstood Great White Shark

Today’s post comes from Amos Nachoum, an award winning photographer, specializig in Big Animals, like great white sharks, leopard seals, polar bears, etc. We first met Amos as we were planning for our Antartica Trip. Talking to Amos you immediately get wrapped up in his enthusiasm and his love of the sea. If you talk to him long enough, you’ll be making some incredible dives in some unusual places, think Antartica or the Artic. If you ever meet him, tell him you know Dive Mom!

Written by Amos Nachoum

Great White Sharks – Nasty Predator?

Great White Shark by Amos NachoumMy expeditions to encounter the Great White Shark tend to sell out fast. That’s what just happened to my last two October expeditions. My favorite spot in the world to see Great Whites is in Mexico’s Baja California. The trips sell out fast for a good reason. People are fascinated with Great Whites, even though these sharks have the undeserved reputation of being a nasty predator. They’ve got a lot of teeth, as many as 300. They’re big – 12 to 16 feet long, and they weigh a couple thousand pounds. Steven Spielberg gave a starring role to a Great White in Jaws, and that didn’t help their reputation as a ferocious man eater.

But the truth is they are one of the most fascinating animals you’ll ever encounter, and one of the most rare.

When young, they feed on small harbor seals and later go after sea lions, elephant seals and even small toothed whales. They like to ambush their prey from below – one big bite usually does the trick. They will also scavenge – eating the carcass of a whale shark. They will sometimes eat sea turtles and sea otters.

Let’s be fair, though. Scientists and others who study the Great White say that in the past 100 years more people have been killed by dogs than by Great White sharks. That’s not to say that they don’t look scary. They do, especially when you’re facing one close up. But that’s only part of what makes them so fascinating.

The Great White Shark: A Rare Species

There are only about 100 adult Great Whites in the state of California’s waters. Scientists say less than 3,500 Great Whites are left in the world’s oceans, making them rarer than tigers. They are long distance swimmers, capable of traveling 12,000 miles over a nine month period. A trip from California to Hawaii is a common trip for them. Scientists have tracked them swimming from South African to Australia and back in nine months’ time.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been capturing young white sharks, exhibiting them for a a short time, and then releasing them. The first time they did this, in 2004, the shark had almost a million visitors. The aquarium’s executive director Julie Packard said the shark was “the post powerful emissary for ocean conservation in our history.” The aquarium is also studying the adult Great White sharks to learn how to protect them from overfishing and the effects of bycatch – sharks that get caught in the nets of industrial fishing operations, get injured and can die because of it.

That’s what happened to one of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s White sharks, a female. Captured on August 26, 2009 and released on November 4, the shark traveled more than 500 miles, from Monterey Bay to Baja California. There, she was accidentally caught in a gill net and died.

Baja California – One of the Best Dive Sites for Epic Shark Diving

There’s no doubt that Great White sharks are worthy of great respect. They’re found in the waters of Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It’s true that are amazing dives to be enjoyed in all of those locations, but my favorite place to see them is in Baja California. The water is clear and warm and the shark encounters will always be your best memories of shark diving.