The guy behind the lens

My photo

I'm a Science Teacher, Nature Photographer, Husband, Father, and Grandfather who loves to explore the natural world by traveling, photographing and thinking. 


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Photo of the Week for August 29th - September 4th

This week's Photo of the Week comes to us from the waters off of "Seal Island" near Gansbaai, South Africa. I had been here in 2006 and had the thrill of going diving in a cage among the famed great white sharks of this area. To say the least the experience was intoxicating! When I got the chance to return in 2007 I jumped at the chance! This image comes from that 2007 visit which was  on a cold and misty winter morning. Over the three hour trip to the island we encountered 14 great whites ranging in size from 7 feet to over 15 feet! This large male was among the more "assertive" individuals we met that day. Once he had a hold on the bait line he did not want to give up!

Each of the trips that goes out to visit these sharks is staffed with a shark biologist who (by South African law) is charged with keeping a log of all sharks spotted. They then record all identifying aspects of the shark. As such the sharks of this area are among the best studied of any wild population in the world.

While this trip is universally regarded as dangerous by folks I've met, I was not harmed by the sharks during my time in the cage (or on the boat  LOL). However the day after this image was taken, I went whale watching to see the migrating Southern Right Whales in an adjacent bay. As irony would have it , while whale watching  our boat hit a large swell and I was tossed in the air and landed awkwardly so that one of my vertebrae fractured. Thanks to the kind folks on the boat and superb medical care upon my return to shore, my broken back did not cause permanent damage and after 3 days in the hospital in Hermanus , SA I was able to (uncomfortably) fly home and begin a 6 month rehabilitation stint in Dallas. More than three years after that accident, I have no lasting issues with my back.

click to enlarge

SHARKBITE! is available for purchase at the Blue Lion Store on Etsy.


Hope said...

oh good lord.. I fear I would have dropped the camera.. and then had to go to the bathroom really fast !!!
how in the world do you keep breathing after such a capture???

John S. Mead said...

Thanks for the comment Hope! Watching these guys through the lens here was LOTS more "relaxing" than being in the cage where you are close enough to reach out and touch them (if you've lost your senses completely!)

When I was in the cage, it was hard to hold my breath ( I was underwater) for more than about 10 seconds it seemed!

Missy said...

WOW! is all that comes to mind! I would LOVE to see one of these guys in the wild....from a very safe distance, of course. But, I DID swim with a wild dolphin in Panama City Beach, FL....if that counts for anything!
Great, great shot! Wish I still lived in TX and could con you into some photog lessons!
Missy Woodham
Greer, SC

John S. Mead said...

Thanks Missy! I'd love to swim with a wild dolphin!

You may not live in Texas, but I'd be happy to help you out with any photo question I can long distance! FYI - both my parents are from SC ( Dillon & Florence) and I LOVE to vacation in the Pawley's Island/Litchfield Beach area!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Great action capture! That maw looks scary!