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Lifestyle :: Art/Leisure :: The Freedive Camera :: Chance Encounters

Chance Encounters

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A lot of my shots of dolphins are from when I was just screwing around…

I’ve been seeing a lot about the dolphin cull in Taiji, Japan in the news these days. More accurately, I’ve been seeing a lot about it in my newsfeed on Facebook. I remember first reading about it way back in the 80s in National Geographic and have heard news reports from time to time on it. Some years ago, I

This is a small pod of dolphins that approached while shooting Hawaiian eagle rays.

was lucky enough to be sent to the Big Island to cover a story on a freedive course in Kona for Hawaii Skin Diver magazine. Little did I know one of the participants in the class was about to travel to Taiji to utilize his newly-learned skills in an effort to bring the story of Taiji to a much larger audience. You may

Sometimes you come across massive pods of dolphins, like this time back in 2003…

have heard of this documentary—it’s called The Cove. It was rather fitting that during our class we were visited by pods of dolphins on a number of occasions. In hindsight I consider it an advanced payment for

A lot of my shots of dolphins are from when I was just screwing around…

our fellow classmate’s future efforts.

This is a macro shot of a dolphin.. Why a macro shot? I was shooting nudibranchs when a school of dolphins made a quick pass. With a macro lens, you’re probably only going to get a portrait shot…

In this class, as in many open-ocean adventures in the past, I was lucky enough to happen upon dolphins in the wild. Often I would be out spearfishing or shooting pictures of other critters when I would hear

A shot in murky water of spinner dolphins…

the familiar chatter of dolphins. In the nearshore areas of Hawaii, the dolphins are invariably spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris, although if you venture out deeper you are likely to find bottlenose

Spinner dolphins above me as I was shooting underwater landscapes.

dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, and a variety of other dolphins as well.

Swimming with dolphins can be a dicey thing, and is a gray area legally. In general, it’s best to leave the dolphins alone as they come into the nearshore area to rest after a night of hunting in the deep.

A sleepy pod of dolphins rise to the surface for a breath of air… best to leave them alone…

Disturbing these dolphins is prohibited by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is theoretically charged with enforcing this law.

A pod zips by near the bottom. Note the cookie cutter shark bite on the dolphin’s side.

If you’re lucky enough to have dolphins come by for a visit, enjoy the moment. But remember to enjoy at a distance and don’t pursue them. As I’ve mentioned before, things that are chased often flee and that can ruin the moment and land you in some legal hot water.


A pod of dolphins dreamily turn to the side as they pass by.

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