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That teen who rode a whale shark

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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

“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

Shark Diving in French Polynesia (podcast)

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Support us: download the podcast on iTunes ( find “Shark Diving French Polynesia!”)

In July, I went to French Polynesia with Fabrice Charleux of Plongeur.com to capture stills and video of the incredible schools of gray reef sharks that call its remote atolls home. At that time, I posted only a few still frames from the trip—not because I didn’t want to share, but because I had something larger planned. When I returned home, I called up Mary Lynn Price of DiveFilm and asked her if she would be interested in collaborating in a podcast episode. Luckily, Mary Lynn was excited about the project, and together, we have finally finished and published a new DiveFilm HD episode on the sharks of French Polynesia. To see the video, please download it from iTunes. DiveFilm is currently the only ocean-related podcast featured by Apple, and the only way to make sure it stays there is to have folks download and view it through iTunes!

Links to podcast: DiveFilm HD on iTunes. The episode is called “Shark Diving French Polynesia!”

Special thanks to Fabrice Charleux (gracious host and organizer; translator; subtitling), Mary Lynn Price (editor; podcast goddess), Don Kehoe (grumpy photo assistant), Dave Patchen (supporting friend), Adam Tow (interview camera assistance) and Rae Chang (interview assistance). This would not have been possible without all of you!

Footage taken with Canon 7D, Canon S95, and GoPro Hero camera in Eye of Mine flat-port housing.

Hong Kong | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 18, 2011 01:19:26

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

Whale shark feeding in 3D

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Here is a 3D video of a whale shark feeding at the surface during a huge whale shark aggregation in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I shot it on August 15, 2011, using a GoPro 3D HERO System and an Eye of Mine 3D flat lens housing (a flat-lens solution is required for a GoPro to focus properly underwater).

The video is best viewed at 720p in some sort of 3D mode.

If you own a 3D display at home, you can download a higher-quality side-by-side version for local display (~99MB; link is good for 500 downloads; if it fails, please let me know). The downloadable video is still highly-compressed and doesn’t quite convey the same 3D coolness that original version does, but it is still effective!

Isla Mujeres, Mexico | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 20, 2011 22:47:31

Wetpixel Isla Mujeres Expedition 2011, Days 1-3

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Day 3 of the 3rd Wetpixel whale shark expedition in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: We’ve had 3 days of whale shark action so far, and each day has given us something different (but spectacular). The first day, a couple hundred whale sharks were spread out in a rather long stretch of the glassy-calm ocean. The water was relatively clear, considering that it was completely full of transparent tunny eggs from the mass-spawning event three nights earlier. Whale sharks gulped down eggs around us from 8am until our boat left (at 1:30pm).

On the second day, we discovered a small patch of ocean with hundreds of tightly-packed whale sharks. They were so dense that they were forced to feed in layers, and we saw as many sharks ascending and descending as we did on the surface of the ocean (very rare). Our guides were totally excited, saying that the ocean was infestado with whale sharks. After thirty minutes of total whale-shark insanity, the sharks vanished in a coordinated descent into the depths—it was totally bizarre. One minute, we were surrounded by literally hundreds of sharks, and the next, there were only a few left on the surface. All of us, including the local guides, were totally dumbfounded by the strange behavior.

Today (day 3), we found the sharks 4 miles east and 2 miles south of where they were yesterday. It took a coordinated search effort by multiple boats to find them (which took 3.5 hours on the water), and we weren’t in the water until 9:45am. The action was fantastic, with botellas almost literally everywhere we looked (a botella is a stationary whale shark that is vertical in the water, “gulping” water constantly to feed.

I’ve been shooting with both a Nauticam-housed Canon 7D with Tokina 10-17 fisheye zoom lens, and with a 3D GoPro HERO setup (with Eye of Mine 3D underwater GoPro housing). The 3D GoPro setup has been yielding some very interesting footage because I can get the camera in places where a big housing can never go (e.g. right in front of a whale shark that is cruising at speed). I have some interesting 3D footage that I’d love to present, but two failed upload attempts to YouTube are enough; I’ll upload when I return to the States.

In the meantime, here’s a 3D screen-grab from the video (red/cyan 3D glasses required):

3D whale shark gulp with GoPro 3D HERO camera / Eye of Mine 3D underwater housing

3D whale shark gulp with GoPro 3D HERO camera / Eye of Mine 3D underwater housing

I also have cute / precious footage of Kieran Liu (the 5-year-old son of my friends Kenny and Lori) swimming madly after a whale shark (and managing to get really, really close). He is fearless!

Update: here are links to the videos:

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 17, 2011 19:54:44

Hundreds of sharks in South Fakarava

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SHARKS! Video grab from a dive at the south pass of Fakarava

This is a screen grab from a video I took while diving the south pass of Fakarava (Tumakohua). There are hundreds of gray reef sharks there, just hanging out in the current. It was every bit as incredible as it was the last time I was there.

French Polynesia | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 1, 2011 14:23:27

Tahiti shark dive @ TOPDIVE-Bathys, French Polynesia

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We did two shark dives in Tahiti hosted by TOPDIVE-Bathys dive center. I’ve done shark dives all around the world, and was really impressed by the number of gray reef sharks in the area. We had approximately 50 gray reef sharks, a few black-tip reef sharks, and a couple lemon sharks. A tiger shark has been at the dive semi-regularly, but it didn’t show up for us.

Given that Tahiti is an easy, 8-hour flight from LAX, the shark dive at TOPDIVE-Bathys might be the most accessible dive with lots of sharks for those of us who live in California.

I’m told that the baited dive is both new and controversial here on the island, and interestingly, the Tahiti shark dive isn’t even highlighted on the TOPDIVE-Bathys website (but the Moorea shark dive is). But given the quality of the local shark dive, it will no doubt attract a good number of divers in the shark diving community.

Tahiti, French Polynesia | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jul 25, 2011 12:33:45

Sterling and whale shark

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I’m getting excited about the upcoming Wetpixel Whale Shark Aggregation trip! This photo was taken during last year’s aggregation and shows off the size difference between man and the biggest fish in the ocean.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 3, 2011 12:44:47

Shark attack copyright violation by Russian 1TV.ru

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A Russian TV station used my GoPro Underwater Shark Experiment in a news piece about a shark attack.

It’s no wonder videographers use huge watermarks in the middle of their videos (like I do with my stock video).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 13, 2010 22:50:11

Old school lemon snaps!

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Shark bite! Lemon shark at the surface (Negaprion brevirostris). Bahamas “lemon snap.”

I found these old images while looking through my shark library yesterday. Ahh, the good ol’ days… (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 12, 2010 21:30:28

Shark Bite GoPro! DiveFilm HD Podcast

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My recent video featuring sharks biting a GoPro HD Hero camera in an Eye of Mine underwater housing has just been released on DiveFilm HD. It is similar to one of the videos I posted earlier, but now has a “making of” section and a voice-over description of what is going on.

DiveFilm is an underwater video podcast put out by Mary Lynn Price and sponsored by Wetpixel. We are very excited because it is currently (as of today) the #1 Sports & Recreation Podcast on iTunes! Since the iTunes ranking is based on downloads, I encourage you to watch the video through iTunes even if you streamed it from this post. Support DiveFilm! :)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Oct 2, 2010 02:22:35

Shark video: Monster chaos in the Bahamas (3D anaglyph)

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3D anaglyph (red/cyan) glasses are required for this video.

Emma the tiger shark and a bunch of reef sharks and lemon sharks feed on a bit of fish bait (bones, mostly) in the Bahamas.

This is probably the most effective blue-water 3D video I’ve posted to date. It is a bit bright, but it’s hard to do color correction for anaglyph 3D. I need to find a way to preview my work on proper 3D displays!

UPDATE: I just looked at this video, and the Vimeo upload’s compression has made the 3D anaglyph effect much less pronounced. At 1080p pre-Vimeo compression, the 3D effect is tremendous. I need to upload a better version…

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Sep 18, 2010 23:31:07

Video: Sharks investigate gorgonian, Bahamas (3D anaglyph)

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3D anaglyph (red/cyan) glasses are necessary for this video.

Reef sharks, lemon sharks and nurse sharks investigate a gorgonian, where an injured fish must be hiding. Bahamas.

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Sep 18, 2010 22:24:39

The GoPro Shark Experiment

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The Eye of Mine underwater housing for GoPro cameras is simple: it’s a stock GoPro housing with a replacement flat port. Although the standard GoPro housing is waterproof and rated to 60 meters, it won’t focus underwater because of its tiny little dome port. Eye of Mine’s simple solution lets you capture sharp images underwater using a GoPro Hero HD camera.

I took an Eye of Mine-housed GoPro Hero HD camera to the Bahamas a few days ago and played with sharks:

Although I’m used to cameras many times the cost of a GoPro, and I was really impressed by the footage I managed to capture. Specifically, I can’t imagine putting any other camera inside a shark’s mouth! (Also, the footage does actually look pretty good.)

Special thanks to Russell Latimer of Eye of Mine for the loaner housing (which is still in relatively good shape, considering the abuse I put it through); to Jim Abernethy, my good friend and shark guide in the Bahamas for 9 years now; to Sterling Zumbrunn for providing third-party camera footage, and to Ultralight Control Systems for providing the AD-GO ball adapter to connect the GoPro housing to my rig.

Bahamas | link | Comments Off | Sep 17, 2010 22:24:21

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

Bull sharks in murky water, video show reel

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Video footage of bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in murky water

I had to put this together for a submission to a production company, so I thought I’d post it here. Despite all the time I’ve spent in the water with sharks, I’ve only had bull shark encounters a handful of times. I was once rammed by one in mid-water, which was very exciting, but most of my encounters have involved me holding my breath trying to get close to them.

The exceptions were encounters at Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, and at Walker’s Cay in the Bahamas, which were prolonged and close. This footage is all from Walker’s Cay, where the water can get quite murky when stirred up. It was shot in 2006 with a Sony Z1u HDV camcorder in a Light & Motion Bluefin underwater housing and was one of the first times I took a video camera into the water.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Feb 17, 2010 01:02:45

Sixgill shark segment on OPB (I’m in it!)

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The sixgill shark segment on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Oregon Field Guide is now online! The OPB folks filmed this segment during our charter with Team Hydrus [original trip report].

Sharks which normally spend their lives at the bottom of the world’s oceans have been found living in the relatively shallow waters of Puget Sound. Recreational divers and researchers lure sixgill sharks in for up close encounters. It’s believed Puget Sound is a sixgill shark nursery: a safe place to give birth and raise hundreds or perhaps a thousand or more young sharks. There has never been a report of a sixgill attack on a human.

First Broadcast: 2009
Producer: Vince Patton
Videographer/Editor: Michael Bendixen
Video & Stills Courtesy of : Eric Cheng-WetPixel.com and the Seattle Aquarium

Appeared in episode: Boat Building, Sixgill Sharks, Tsunami Update

Unfortunately, Andy Letourneau, a crew member with Team Hydrus, recently passed away in a diving accident. Vince has posted a tribute to Andy on the OBP website.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Oct 26, 2009 14:39:31

Sixgill shark story airing on OPB on Oct 22 & 25, 2009

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A sixgill shark in Seattle

Vince Patton, Producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, just wrote me to tell me that their story on sixgill sharks in Seattle is finally going to air this coming October 22 at 8:30pm PST, and on October 25 at 6:30pm, as part of Oregon Field Guide. We gave Vince some space on our chartered boat a year ago when we were out diving with sixgill sharks.

Some of my underwater footage will be included, and you might even see me in some of the scenes. ;) I don’t have TV signal here at my place, but I’m told that the story will be up on their website after it airs.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 18, 2009 11:47:59

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
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