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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

Mother humpback whale and calf

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A mother humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) stays close to her young calf to be prepared to help it breathe at the surface. Vava’u, Tonga. 060728_154530_echeng5002

I never processed and shared this set of images because I had so many to go through, at the time. Looking back through my archive is making me realize that I have quite a few interesting images that no one has else has seen…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Mar 14, 2011 01:17:11

Snow monkeys, Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, Japan

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A snow monkey stares over the edge of a hot spring (Japanese macaque, Macaca fuscata). Jigokudani Yaen-Koen in Yamanouchi, Japan.

During our honeymoon, Pam and I spent a full day in the snowy mountains near Nagano photographing Japanese macaques. The so-called “snow monkeys” are a troupe of around 160 macaques that soak themselves in an onsen (hot spring) about 40 minutes up a mountain (on foot) from Shibu Onsen, a historic hot spring area in Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture, Japan.

Although I had seen images of these macaques for years, actually being there to photograph them in person was really special. The macaques I’ve interacted with in other places of the world seem to be focused on getting food (and hats, and sunglasses, etc.) from tourists, but these macaques completely ignored us. Sure, there were one or two aggressive individuals who didn’t like eye contact, but we could literally stand a few inches away from the rest of them without incident.

When we arrived at Shibu Onsen, I was worried because very little snow had fallen. Luckily, snow poured out of the heavens overnight and throughout the entire next day. We awoke to more than 6″ of fresh snow on the ground — perfect, for photography.

I plan on writing a comprehensive guide on photographing snow monkeys soon. Until then, enjoy these photos! (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Dec 28, 2010 01:31:58

Hanging out with snow monkeys

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Pam, me, and snow monkeys @ Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, Japan

Happy holidays! Pam and I spent 7 hours on Christmas eve in the snow hanging out with Japanese macaques — the so-called “snow monkeys.” It was awesome. Will post photos as soon as can. :)

Kyoto, Japan | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 25, 2010 08:00:39

Bats are cool

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Large fruit bat in central Torajaland, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Most of the Wetpixel group traveling to Toraja are more used to photographing wildlife than they are photographing landscapes and people. Bernie, our guide, took us to a place where hundreds of large fruit bats hung on towering clumps of bamboo. I’m not sure what kind of bats they were, but they were likely Indonesian short-nosed fruit bats (Cynopterus titthaecheilus). A few of them were flying around during the day, and I snapped these shots with a Canon 7D and 70-200mm/2.8L lens @ 200mm (crop). (read more »)

Toraja, Indonesia | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Nov 19, 2010 06:58:50

Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) in Florida

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Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) in Boca Raton, Florida

Jim Abernethy and Janine took Marcelo and me to Boca Raton today to photograph burrowing owls, which are extremely cute. We found them in a field at Florida Atlantic University, where their burrows are marked with stakes (along with additional markers designating the distance you are allowed to approach). Burrowing owls are a “species of special concern” in Florida and are listed in CITES Appendix II.

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 9 comments » | Sep 19, 2010 21:05:27

Moray eels hunting at night (3D anaglyph)

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* red/cyan glasses required

3D video (anaglyph red/cyan) of a moral eel hunting at night in the Maldives. Shot underwater with a custom BS Kinetics underwater housing for dual Sony CX550V camcorders.

If you would rather see a side-by-side format or row interleaved, check out the YouTube version of the video.

If you don’t have anaglyph 3D glasses and want to see the footage, click through for the left eye view. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 7, 2010 23:13:33

Self cam with whale sharks, Mexico

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Inspired by Rob Stewart’s self-cam footage in Sharkwater, I turned my camera around and took some footage of me swimming with whale sharks off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II, Tokina 17mm/3.5 lens. 0260619

Rob was in Isla Mujeres the week before I was, and shot similar footage (although he dove down, whereas I stayed on the surface).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Aug 14, 2010 11:43:29

Another animal from your nightmares

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Stock video footage / show reel of a reptilian snake eel (Brachysomophis henshawi) and a white-eyed moray (Siderea thysoidea) eel, taken with an underwater endoscope (wide-angle macro). Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Footage shot with a Canon EOS 7D digital SLR in High Definition 1080p @ 29.97fps, H.264 @ 40Mbps.

Apologies for the obnoxious timecode in the middle. I’ll edit all of my footage from Lembeh into a best-of video as soon as I can!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Mar 20, 2010 10:20:39

Sperm whales, high definition stock video footage HD 1080p

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Eric Cheng’s stock video footage / show reel of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in clear water off the coast of Dominica (central Caribbean). Includes footage of Scar, the famous resident 10-year old male sperm whale in the “Group of 7″ pod. Whales from the “Group of 7″ and the “Utensils Group” are both included.

Footage shot with a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR in High Definition 1080p, H.264 @ 40Mbps.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 28, 2010 13:06:04

Sperm whale with giant squid in mouth

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Sperm whale with giant squid in mouth, echeng091014_0238869_c

Close-up of a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Ogasawara Islands, Japan, with the carcass of a giant squid in her mouth.

Taken with Canon 5D Mark II SLR, Tokina 17mm prime lens, Seacam underwater housing

Read the full trip report.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 28, 2009 17:35:03

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

Trip Report: sperm whale expedition to Ogasawara, Japan

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Update 1: October 11, 2009

We arrived in the Ogasawara Islands two days ago after enduring a typhoon in Toyko and an arduous 25.5-hour ferry ride. Ogasawara is 1000km due south of Tokyo and sits, isolated, at approximately the same latitude as Okinawa. As the ferry approached land, Tony Wu translated what was being broadcast over the ship-wide speaker system.

“There’s another typhoon coming, and it’s supposed to hit tomorrow.”

Two typhoons in four days?! Given the prospect what high winds and huge swells might do to the tiny island we had just set foot on, an urgency suddenly materialized to get out onto the ocean as soon as possible. The six of us settled in at our modest accommodation for about an hour before heading out on our 42-foot dive vessel (which is very nice). Sea-Tac, the local operator whose vessel we chartered, is very knowledgeable about sperm whales and drove us east to a ridge line in about 1000 meters of water. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 23:00:52

Ogasawara: sperm whale / underwater image gallery

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A gallery of sperm whale images and underwater photography from the Wetpixel sperm whale expedition to the Ogasawara Islands, Japan during October 8-18, 2009. Subjects include sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), and carcass bits of some sort of large pelagic octopus and an unidentified giant squid.

This gallery supplements my trip report. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Oct 19, 2009 22:50:16

A social group of 6 sperm whales / giant squid in mouth

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– VIDEO REMOVED –

I’ve removed the video at the suggestion of a friend of mine, who tells me that it is worth real money. Contact me privately if you are interested in the footage.

Above is a video of six sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Ogasawara Islands, Japan. The lead female sperm whale has the remains of a large squid (possibly, an Architeuthis giant squid) in her mouth. 15 minutes earlier, we had been in the water in the scattered remains of the squid (birds were feeding on it) before seeing this group of sperm whales close by. It looked as if the squid had been torn apart on the surface! (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 01:38:58

15-meter male sperm whale, Ogasawara Islands

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15-meter male sperm whale, Ogasawara Islands, originally uploaded by echeng.

We spent much of the today watching a huge (15m / 49ft) sperm whale. The crew said that it was a big male, and that male sperm whales in Ogasawara are both rare and shy. We dropped in several times at a distance and swam to him to see if he would tolerate our presence. In most cases, he did shallow dives as we approached, but just once (when I was alone), he surfaced and turned to face me. The sperm whale was gigantic, and his huge head had large bulges coming out of it (it has to be shaped like that to hold the spermiceti organ). I have to admit that I was a little concerned when he swam to me, nearly blocking out the sun. I know that whales have very rarely harmed humans, but the mind comes up with all sorts of bizarre scenarios. :) echeng091016_023246

For more photos, see the official trip report!

Ogasawara, Japan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Oct 16, 2009 05:41:58

Pantropical dolphins, Ogasawara Islands, Japan

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Pantropical dolphins, Ogasawara Islands, Japan, originally uploaded by echeng.

Two pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) jumping out of the water. Ogasawara Islands, Japan. echeng091015_0239050

For more photos, see the official trip report!

Ogasawara, Japan | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 15, 2009 05:53:25

Sperm Whale, Ogasawara Islands, Japan

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Sperm Whale, Ogasawara Islands, Japan, originally uploaded by echeng.

Sperm whale off of the Ogasawara Islands in Japan. One of my first sperm whale photos!

For more photos, see the official trip report!

Ogasawara, Japan | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Oct 11, 2009 07:10:40

Octopus in a bottle

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Octopus in a bottle, originally uploaded by echeng.

The canonical octopus in a bottle. Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Lembeh Strait, Indonesia | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Mar 4, 2009 07:01:06

Fiery slashes

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Fiery slashes, originally uploaded by echeng.

Sea urchin detail. Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Lembeh Strait, Indonesia | link | trackb | no comments » | Mar 4, 2009 07:00:50
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