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That teen who rode a whale shark

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echeng110817_081113A

I’m being asked about the kid who rode a whale shark recently, and I have mixed feelings about it. I am, however, sad that there is a witch hunt by so-called conservationists and animal lovers whenever something like this happens. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jun 18, 2013 20:48:04

Another day, another copyright infringement (this time, by Greenpeace)

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Greenpeace uses my screaming turtle picture without permission

Greenpeace International is using my screaming turtle picture without permission nor credit. Most of their feed, for the past couple of days, consists of pictures ripped from the internet and modified with text, uploaded directly to their Facebook timeline. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 24, 2013 17:45:10

The perfect request for free pictures

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My contact page is a little scary. The message is basically, “Don’t email me if you haven’t done your own research, and don’t ask for free pictures if you don’t ask the right way.”

Many photographers get really angry when they are asked for free pictures, but I do not. Instead, I evaluate each request, and decide based on the information the requestor gives me. I received an email from Todd S. the other day for a request to use a sperm whale picture on a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina. It’s the PERFECT request—it gave me enough information to be able to quickly decide whether or not I was interested in donating a picture (I was, and I did). Thank you, Todd!

I may use Todd’s email as a template for a new “free image license request form” of some kind.

Thanks for your willingness to offer usage of photography for free to non-profits (under the right circumstances). I’m hoping my request qualifies! I am a designer building a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina ( http://www.capelookoutstudies.org ). I am interested in using one of your images on the website.

  1. image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/echeng/4315292806/

  2. The image will be used on a page dedicated to a recent project of the program. They have rearticulated a sperm whale skeleton (now hanging in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC). I want to use the photo in a slideshow/animation to be featured on the page. The animation will fade from your image, to the image of the skeleton shot at the same angle as your whale image.

  3. Size of the image will be roughly 900×500 pixels.

  4. The image will not be used in any print materials!

  5. There’s not quite enough funding in the program to cover all the website work that’s needed. They haven’t updated the site in over 10 years! They do great work to encourage conservation, educate the public, help whales as part of the NC marine mammal stranding network, and they work to prevent injury to marine animals by creating and sustaining North Carolina’s Fishing Line Recycling Program. All good stuff!

I work with photographers on many commercial projects and understand the work, dedication, and artistry that goes in to a great shot. Photography has real value and I appreciate your willingness to entertain my request.

Todd S., designer

San Francisco | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 3, 2012 02:01:18

“All for a Bowl of Soup” Dan Rather Reports on shark finning

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I’m back from Papua New Guinea, and finally downloaded and watched “All for a Bowl of Soup,” an episode of Dan Rather Reports which aired Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8pm ET on HDNet (strangely, I had to watch iTunes’ SD version of “HD”Net).

“All for a Bowl of Soup” is the most no-nonsense piece I’ve seen about the global shark finning problem. It combines facts with awe-inspiring footage of thousands of shark fins being pulled into a single fisheries facility in a single day.

The show features my friend, Shawn Heinrichs, and a significant amount of his investigative footage showing huge numbers of shark fins in processing facilities, as well as footage of a live, finned shark suffocating to death. It also includes about a minute of my shark footage shot in the wild.

“All for a Bowl of Soup” hatched as a plan between me and Derek Reich, a freelance cameraman who does a lot of work with HDNet. We had been talking about it for awhile, but finally hashed out a proposal when we happened to both be stranded in New York during Hurricane Irene last year.

If you have half an hour to spare, please download and watch “All for a Bowl of Soup” from iTunes. If you are moved by the piece, please donate to Shark Savers—my conservation organization of choice—or to your chosen shark conservation organization, and spread the word!1


  1. Disclaimer: I am on the Board of Directors of Shark Savers 

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Feb 4, 2012 06:08:44

PHOTOS: Alice Newstead hangs from shark hooks in anti-shark finning protest

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Alice Newstead hangs from shark hooks at LUSH Cosmetics in protest of shark finning

Performance artist Alice Newstead hangs herself from shark hooks at LUSH Cosmetics in San Francisco to draw attention to the plight of sharks and to garner support for AB 376, a proposed bill that will ban shark fins in California. Event organized and sponsored by LUSH Cosmetics and Shark Savers.

More information from Shark Savers:

Photo gallery follows: (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 25, 2011 21:35:43

Dead 80-ft blue whale and fetus (possible boat strike), Northern California

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A 6-month old blue whale fetus lies in the rocks at Bean Hollow State Beach

Yesterday, I drove down to Bean Hollow State Beach (just south of Pescadero Beach at (37.227072, -122.410529 to see the dead 80-foot blue whale that washed ashore last Tuesday. Scientists found at least three fractured vertebrae and hemorrhaging in the whale’s belly, concluding that she may have died as a result of a strike from a large boat. A 6-month old fetus was ejected at some point during the last moments of the whale’s life and was found not far from its 75-ton mother. The baby was pure white — beautiful, really, and a stark contrast to the black rocks upon which it rested. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 11, 2010 23:11:23

Dead blue whale, northern California

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The carcass of a dead 80-foot blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in northern California. Scientists suspect the whale was struck by a large boat before beaching itself. The whale ejected a fetus before she died. The fetus was on the beach not far from the mother.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Oct 10, 2010 12:03:58

Frogfish on the menu

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frogfish on the menu at a korean restaurant

These must be trawled, deep-water anglerfish / frogfish (boo!). I’m not sure how fisherman would harvest shallow, reef-dwelling frogfish in an economical manner.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 3, 2010 17:51:11

Chip Scarlett loves sharks (and visits me)

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Chip Scarlett with my new underwater 3D rig

Today, I had a whirlwind lunch and chat with Chip Scarlett. In addition to being an underwater photographer, author and conservationist, Chip is a race car driver and biotech CEO.

Chip set up our appointment both to catch up and to hand-deliver his new book, Loving Sharks (which will hopefully be officially released in the U.S. soon). Loving Sharks features beautiful imagery of sharks presented alongside quotes solicited from prominent divers, photographers, cinematographers and conservationists — all of whom are part of Chip’s incredible network within the industry. I look forward to taking a closer look at the book. Thanks, Chip!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 23, 2010 13:15:16

Help establish a new shark sanctuary in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Indonesia at the same time one of the most biodiverse ocean environments on the planet and the world’s largest shark fishery. Shark Savers is working with Misool Eco Resort, Conservation International’s Indonesia Marine Program, WildAid, and other NGOs and eco-tourism companies on a new initiative to convince the Raja Ampat government to prohibit all fishing of sharks, mantas, and mobulas.

This is not a “feel good” petition. The petition is one piece of a comprehensive initiative to show the Raja Ampat Fisheries and Tourism Depts. that sharks, mantas and mobulas are very valuable to their local economy – ALIVE! Sign the petition now — we need your support.

Spread the word!

Note — I wanted to post an image of a shark photographed in Indonesia, but I realize that I’ve pretty much NEVER SEEN A SHARK in Indonesia. If this partnership of conservation groups can help to get a new marine park set up, maybe that will change…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 18, 2010 00:18:22

The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

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8 minutes. If you drink bottled water, it’s worth watching.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Mar 22, 2010 14:42:30

How not to ask for a free image for turtle conservation

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I consider myself to be an active conservationist. I regularly donate time, photographs, and money to the conservation organizations I have relationships with, and I give images away to other organizations when I feel that the donation will have a positive effect. Of course, there is a limit to the amount of time I can spend giving away my work. If I give away too many, I not only compromise my own ability to continue to photograph wildlife, but I also contribute to making it difficult for hard-earned images of any kind to have value in the marketplace.

Over the past two days, I’ve had a rather unpleasant exchange with a guy I will refer to as Wayne out in Maui. I am not going to post his full name nor his affiliation unless he continues to antagonize me. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | 20 comments » | Feb 11, 2010 00:10:25

Last moments of the Ady Gil — leaked footage

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Those of you who think that the Ady Gil moved into the path of the Shonan Maru should watch at this video (also embedded here), which was leaked and then pulled from YouTube — but not before someone grabbed it and uploaded it again. Aside from the fact that it is obvious that the Shonan Maru turns starboard to intercept, the Ady Gil clearly cuts her engines and only motors at the end in an attempt to get out of the way.

I’m not sure why so many couch-laden landlubbers analyzed the previous videos available and concluded things like, “The Ady Gil’s engines were on. Therefore, she moved into the path of the Shonan Maru.”

Note that I didn’t post this video. I’m just linking to it on YouTube.

I can’t wait to see next season’s Whale Wars. It will be a different experience to watch it not having been there in person!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 15 comments » | Jan 8, 2010 18:21:41

Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gil cut into two by Japanese whaling vessel

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On January 6, 2010, Sea Shepherd’s fast-intercept catamaran the Ady Gil was rammed (formerly, Earthrace) by the Japanese whaling fleet’s security vessel, the Shonan Maro No 2. The front 8 feet or so of the Ady Gil was sheared off, and one crew member suffered broken ribs. All crew were rescued by the M/V Bob Barker.

This video shows the collision from two angles and was put together from videos released by both Sea Shepherd and the ICR. (videos synchronized by Eric Cheng)

UPDATE: Those of you who think that the Ady Gil moved into the path of the Shonan Maru should look at this video, which was leaked (without permission). Aside from the fact that it is obvious that the Shonan Maru turns starboard to intercept, the Ady Gil is just idling and only motors at the end in an attempt to get out of the way. Note that I didn’t post this video. I’m just linking to it on YouTube. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Jan 6, 2010 16:47:03

Shepard Fairey does portrait of Paul Watson

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Shepard Fairey recently did a portrait of Paul Watson, which will be available as a fine-art piece and screen-printed photo.1 It will be on display at the Sea No Evil Art Show 2009 on Saturday, August 29, 2009 in Riverside, CA.

Shepard’s portrait of Paul was done using one of my photographic portraits of Paul as a model.


Portrait of Paul Watson, by Eric Cheng

I took the photo on January 6, 2009, while on campaign with Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese whaling spotter vessel, the Kyoshin Maru No. 2, is in the background.


  1. Sea Shepherd asked permission to provide Fairey with the photo, and I agreed. 

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Aug 21, 2009 13:51:59

Freaking out for sharks

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More below. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Aug 17, 2009 12:53:20

Sharks, a slideshow by Eric Cheng

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More information… (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Aug 16, 2009 01:33:54

A visit to Sea Shepherd HQ in Friday Harbor

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It looks like Kim is attempting a hi-five instead of a hand strike, doesn’t it?

Adam Lau and I spent the last 5 days at Sea Shepherd headquarters in Friday Harbor, Washington, visiting Kim and the rest of the crew. We lucked out and had absolutely beautiful weather for all 5 days — it only started raining when I stepped foot into the little Cessna Caravan on my way back to Seattle. The San Juan Islands are some of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen, and those of you who are close to Sea Shepherd know how appropriate it is that their headquarters are surrounded by nature (in contrast to what is shown on TV, I mean).

A bonus: Julie Andersen was also in Friday Harbor while we were there! It was great to get to spend some time with Julie, as it had been far too long since our last meeting. Unfortunately, I missed Simeon Houtman by mere hours, and Laurens de Groot by a bit longer. (read more »)

Seattle, WA | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Jun 17, 2009 17:20:22

Eco-Terrorism and Piracy on the High Seas

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This is an interesting read, I’m told. I’ve just emailed it to my Kindle and will try to read it on the plane.

ECO-TERRORISM AND PIRACY ON THE HIGH SEAS: JAPANESE WHALING AND THE RIGHTS OF PRIVATE GROUPS TO ENFORCE INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION LAW IN NEUTRAL WATERS
2009, Joseph Elliott Roeschke, The Villanova Environmental Law Journal, Volume XX, Issue 1, pages 99-136.

Abstract:

This Comment examines the various sources of international law on whaling, which attempt to wrestle with the convoluted area of international environmental conservation law on the high seas. Specifically, this Comment analyzes whether, and to what extent, private groups like Sea Shepherd have legal authority to protect endangered whales in neutral waters outside the jurisdiction of any nation. Section II explains the history of whaling, including a synopsis of whaling in Japanese culture and a history of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Section III outlines the relevant areas of international law that regulate whaling and environmental activism, which take place in the neutral coastal waters off of Antarctica. Section IV details the Japanese exploitation of the scientific research exception and provides a critical analysis of how the relevant regulations apply to individuals and private groups who enforce international conservation laws. Finally, Section V focuses on the effect Sea Shepherd has had on the Japanese scientific whaling program and suggests that Sea Shepherd should be allowed to continue enforcing international conservation law, but through less controversial means . . . [Download PDF, 184 KB]

Seattle, WA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jun 17, 2009 16:05:19

Dead dolphin found at Cardiff by the Sea, San Diego

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decapitated, decomposing dolphin in cardiff, san diego

I was walking on the beach today in Cardiff by the Sea and discovered a dead dolphin lying in the sand. It looked like it had been there for some time and had several holes in it where innards were spilling out and bubbling from bacteria generating gas. The strange thing was that the poor cetacean’s head was missing (!). The cut was clean and was not jagged in the way it might be if a large animal had bitten it off. I wonder who would cut the head off of a dolphin??

I called Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the local Sheriff’s station. Hopefully, one of them will haul it away…

There are some photos here in this entry; don’t look at them if you can’t handle photos of dead things. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Apr 28, 2009 01:15:11
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