One of the ocean’s most charismatic and well-known travellers of the high seas, humpback whales have come back from the brink of extinction thanks mainly to the efforts of the environmental movement, which started in earnest in the 1950s & continues till this day.
To be in such intimate proximity to these gentle giants and to witness their balletic feeding dance was one of the most intense and exhilarating experiences of my life.
It's hard to describe your first experience of being surrounded by hundreds of marine giants that have never seen a human being. I had filmed whales before, but this was on a scale I could never have imagined. The water was beautifully clear, and each time I spun around, I could see seven or eight massive animals.
Like their terrestrial counterparts, kelp forests provide home and food sources for an astounding variety of creatures. Long overlooked as a critical habitat to protect, they play a crucial role in carbon sequestration and are increasingly receiving the protection they deserve to thrive.
On my doorstep is the beautiful Great African Sea Forest, an enchanted world of feisty characters large & small, home to My Octopus Teacher & a never-ending source of daily swims and companionship with humans & creatures alike.
The kelp forest is such a spectacular environment that when the light was right, even a locked-off shot or a steady shot just looked absolutely phenomenal. However it's very shallow and very surge-y, so trying to keep the camera steady was always going to be a challenge.
Described by Sir David Attenborough as the greatest gathering of predators on the planet, this annual range extension of sardines and mackerel up the east coast of South Africa is a marine spectacle that you should experience once in your lifetime.
After twelve assignments on location here over the last fifteen years, I would still jump at the chance to spend time on the magical Wild Coast with its extraordinary cast of megafauna and local provenance.
I have filmed on the sardine run many times, and this was, without doubt, the most intense bait ball I have ever experienced.
A species of requiem shark, Blacktip Sharks are common to coastal tropical and subtropical waters around the world, and easily identified by the prominent black tips on its fins. Although abundant, blacktip sharks are considered near threatened with extinction due to overfishing and habitat destruction.
In the early days of my career as an image-maker, while still shooting stills and training my eye, I was fortunate to spend many hours freediving and photographing these classic-looking sharks off Aliwal Shoal. I still have a deep attachment to Aliwal Shoal, to the place and the marine creatures one encounters there.
As a cameraman, a key part of your job is to win the confidence of the animals. To charge in there blazing with your camera without asking permission to is simply disrespectful. All animals are dialled into intentionality in a very profound way, and with dolphins and whales, the nature of their awareness is very akin to ours.