Earthflight 3D for John Downer Productions

While Port Elizabeth delivers the goods in terms of a marine animal behaviour, its a tricky underwater filming destination given the variable visibility, which can fluctuate between 1 and 30 meters, with the mean being around 5m. This shoot for the Eathflight 3D special lived up to that billing - excellent predator behaviour. captured topside on the twin Red Epics by Mike Richardsin, and snatches of behaviour shot by myself underwater in 4m viz, hardly the optimal conditions for lyrical rushes. 


The blind catfish of Aigamas Cave, Namibia.

One of the sequences to be included in the BBC Africa series is on the underground caves in Namibia. In one of these caves there exist an endemic species of blind catfish, clarias cavernicola. Around 15cm long, they have no eyesight, yet their vestigial eyes can be seen. Moving slowly to conserve energy, they will suddenly stop moving and depending on their ballast, either float motionless downwards or upwards, moving again when they touch something solid. They are definitely attracted to underwater vibrations assuming they are not too vigorous.


Pomene Estuary, Mozambique, BBC

After a rather arduous five day drive from Cape Town, teamed up with the BBC’s Hugh Pearson and underwater camereman Doug Anderson to film a sequence on sea horses in the Pomene Estuary for the BBC Africa series which is currently in production. 


Oman, Sport Diver Magazine

Just got back from a ten day exploratory shoot in Oman for Sport Diver magazine with journalist Aaron Gulley. Situated on the east of the Arabian Peninsula, its coastline extends from the Gulf of Oman in the north to Yemen in the south. Our brief was to explore the diving and tourism potential that the country has to offer. Although plagued by a red tide and not great visibility, the diving reminded me a lot of Mozambique, and without doubt this area will reward those who put effort into it.


Touching the Dragon, Costa Rica

As a follow up project to Into the Dragon’s Lair, The Foster Brothers, Sophie Vartan and I headed to Costa Rica in March to meet an astounding man who has built a relationship over the last twenty years with an American crocodile. In this image, Chito interacts with Potcho, the name he has given this animal, in a remarkable dance in which he appears to communicate with the crocodile using a number of visual and oral cues. Our quest in the film is to get a deeper understanding of the dynamics of this relationship, and to see if there is anything we can take away from this and apply it to our relationship with the natural world on a far broader level.


IANTD CCR TRIMIX and CAVE course with Don Shirley.

Longer, harder, deeper! As a photographer, its good to always look for different perspectives on subjects or find access to subjects that others don’t have. The world is saturated with imagery, so to compete one has to do things differently in order to differentiate yourself or find subjects that very few others can get access to. It was Didier Noirot who got me onto rebreathers after out Sardine Run shoot in 2008, and since then I have been sytematically developing my understanding of these astounding machines, under the guidance of dedicated rebreather divers such as Barry Bey-Leveld of Dive Action in Cape Town and Sheldon Brown and Shane Jackson of Zero Bubble in Durban. This effort put me in a position to complete my formal CCR (Closed Circuit Rebreather) training this ast week up at Komati Springs with Don and Andre Shirley, arguably one of the most intense weeks of my life on a number of levels, including a near death experience on the road when Tyler Strain and I narrowly missed being crushed by a large truck as we turned off to Don’s place. Once I have completed a tighter selection of images I will post them under the Expedition section of this site.


Gallaria Diversity off Tofo, Mozambique.

In November a team of us drove the 1200km’s north from Durban in South Africa to the coastal town of Tofo in Mozambique, an area renowned for its fecund manta population. All on rebreathers, the plan was to spend as much time underwater as possible, sorb and OTU’s allowing. A couple of curve balls presented themselves - no manta’s, some radical cold thermoclines at 30 meters of around 15 degrees celcius, and four lost divers at sea, all of which were resolved philosophically and without incident. It was my first time diving the area, but the potential was acutely obvious. Noteworthy on a reef named Gallaria were these aggregations of green coral trees which had been colonised by a myriad of life forms, as illustrated in the picture above. If you plan to dive this area, look up Diversity Scuba, they would be my dive charter of choice if we did not have a boat.


Filming Nile crocodiles in the Okavango Delta

Didier Noirot, myself and the Foster Brothers have just got back from a remarkable shoot in the Okavango Delta, in which we built on Didier’s pioneering work with filming large nile crocodiles underwater. Based on a houseboat called ‘The Kubu Queen’ which is operated by Greg “River Billy” Tompson, we spent two weeks exploring the underwater world of this incredible natural phenomenon. Next year we are hoping to return for a second season of shooting, to build on the sequences we shot this year, and to then work on the release of a documentary on the experience.


Sardine Run time again...


The forces are massing! Its that time of the year again, where we wait in expectation of an annual natural spectacle of truly epic potential. I am down in East London at the moment with one of the Earth-Touch Marine crews, Barry Skinstad and Ian Cook, covering the build up to Sardine Run 2009. This image of a common dolphin leaping out of the water was shot this morning, part of a large hunting pod that we estimated to contain between 500 and 1000 animals. To follow our progress daily, check out the Earth-Touch Marine blog, or follow us on Twitter.


Cichlid Purgatory

The plant-water interface fascinates me aesthetically - there is something radically surreal and Darwinian about submerged organic life that evokes the primal ooze from which all life purportedly sprang. These rib like structures are home to a myriad species of cichlids, who have invariable adapted to make this type of unique habitat there own. Shot off Thumbi Island, Lake Malawi.