Posts Tagged ‘sharks’

Where To Dive With Mako Sharks

Friday, August 21st, 2015
A close up of a mako shark

Chris and Monique Fallows/

Mako Shark
Shortfin makos are found in temperate and tropical seas world wide.

Makos. They might look like skinny great whites, but these lightning-fast sharks are in a league all their own.

They’re not the biggest sharks in the sea, but they just might be the fastest — and the twitchiest.

Short fin mako sharks are sometimes described as miniature great whites on amphetamines. These toothy sharks look like a shrunken- down version of the ocean’s top predators, but they act totally different. While great white sharks slice slow, graceful circles around a diver, watching with an inquisitive eye, makos are twitchy sharks, hopped up on adrenaline, that blast through a chum slick, offering a split-second glimpse before they disappear into the abyss.

Thought to be the fastest sharks in the ocean, makos have an estimated top speed burst of about 45 mph. They can achieve these speeds thanks, in part, to their warm body temperature, which stays between 7 and 10 degrees warmer than the water and gives them energy. Like great whites, makos are known to jump out of the water, sometimes up to 20 feet in the air, though scientists haven’t found the driving force behind this behavior.

Makos are pelagic sharks that live throughout the world’s oceans, but there are only a handful of places where divers have reliable encounters with these incredible creatures.


Mako populations have been rebounding in recent years off the coast of San Diego, where free divers can join charters like those offered by SD Expeditions ( for the chance to go cage-free with these impressive predators.


The remote islands of the Azores sit along the mid-Atlantic ridge, a vast underwater mountain range that cuts through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From July to October, dive operators like CW Azores ( offer blue-water diving trips to swim with makos in the open ocean.


Most divers wouldn’t immediately think of Rhode Island as a shark-diving hot spot, but during the summer months, when the Gulf Stream moves close to shore, this stretch of New England coastline becomes a haven for makos and other sharks, as game fish move closer to shore. A number of fishing boats like Snappa Charters ( now offer trips to see them in their element.


With a top speed of more than 45 miles per hour, shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus) are thought to be the fastest shark species. They can be easily identified by their teeth, which are visible even when their mouths are closed. These sharks can have up to 18 pups at a time, and are listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable.


Shortfin makos are found in temperate and tropical seas world- wide, but San Diego, Azores and Rhode Island offer reliable encounters.


Makos can leap up to 20 feet out of the water, though scientists are unsure of the reason for this behavior. Makos are aggressive hunters that feed primarily on schooling fish like tuna, mackerel and swordfish.


They average between 6 and 9 feet in length.

Imaging Tutorial: How To Edit Shark Photos in Adobe Lightroom

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
Before and After Black and White Conversion

Erin Quigley

Before and After

How to keep your shark photos sharp in post production.

Sharks are a favorite pho-to subject of mine, and I’ve developed a few post-production techniques that help perfect shark images.

1. Desaturate with an Adjustment Brush to remove unwanted color.

Using the Adjustment Brush and Negative Saturation Panel in Lightroom

Step 1

» In the Develop module of Lightroom, click on the Adjustment Brush icon. Slide the Saturation slider to the left to set a high negative value — you’ll finesse this later. You won’t see anything change until you paint with a brush in the image.

» Brush over areas on the shark where you see a blue- green color cast. If you get sloppy with the brush, holding down Opt (Mac) or Alt (PC) gives you a temporary eraser to tidy up.

» Move the Saturation slider back toward the right until you get the result you want.

2. Add Clarity with an Adjustment Brush to enhance pattern and emphasize eyes.

Clarity increases midtone contrast, giving the appearance of added sharpness and punch. Too much Clarity added globally in the Basic panel can make your image look overprocessed, so it’s better to add it locally using Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush and Filters.

» In the Develop module of Lightroom, click on the Adjustment Brush icon. Set a high positive value for Clarity by moving the slider all the way to the right. It doesn’t matter if you set it too high — you’ll dial it back later. You won’t see a change until you paint with the brush in the image.

» Brush over areas that have pattern or texture that you want to emphasize. Locally added Clarity can also work to punch up contrast in light rays. Adjust the slider back down to the level that looks best. You can also add Clarity with the Graduated or Radial filters.

3. Sharpen teeth, not water

How to Sharpen Teeth not Water in Lightroom

Step 3

Sharpening is the process of emphasizing edges. When sharpening gets applied to water, or other areas of flat color, it can do more harm than good. Luckily, Lightroom’s sharpening controls include a tool that lets you apply sharpening to only areas of critical contrast.

» In the Develop module, open the Detail panel.

» After setting the desired values for Amount, Radius and Detail, zoom out so you can see your whole photo. While holding down Opt (Mac) or Alt (PC), click and drag on the Masking slider. At first you’ll see a completely white screen. As you move the slider to the right, some areas be- come gray, and eventually some areas will be black. Where you see white pixels, 100 percent of the sharpen- ing values set in Amount, Radius and Detail are being applied. Gray pixels indicate a lesser value of sharpening, and black means that there’s no sharpening at all. Stop when you can see all critical detail in white, and flat areas in black.

4. Remove bubbles and bait using Content Aware Fill in Photoshop.

» Open your image in Photoshop. With the Lasso tool, draw a loose selection around the object you want to remove. Go to Edit>Fill, and choose Content Aware from the drop-down menu. If you have a Color Adaptation checkbox (Photoshop CC), click it on. Hit OK and watch the magic.

» Content Aware doesn’t always do a perfect job, but it usually gets you most of the way there. Use Photo- shop’s healing and cloning tools to clean up any details.

5. Use the Targeted Adjustment tool in Lightroom for black-and-white conversion.

» In the Develop module, select an image and click on the B&W tab near the HSL panel. The B&W Mix panel will open, and you’ll see Lightroom’s default black-and-white conversion of your image. Although your picture is now black-and-white, the panel sliders correspond to color channels,which makes the editing process nothing better than a guess if you don’t remember which part of your now black-and-white photo used to be a particular color.

» In the upper left corner of the B&W Mix panel is the Targeted Adjustment tool. Click on its icon to activate, and move your cursor into the image. Click and drag up in an area you wish to brighten, and down where you want it darker. It’s just that simple. The Targeted Adjustment tool also exists for the Tone Curve, another panel useful for creating dramatic monochromes.

Want More Tips for Editing Underwater Photos?

Check out Erin’s Tutorial on How To Remove Backscatter, Tips for Adjusting Water Color and Learn How To Make Sexy Black and White Conversions.

Help Save the World’s Shark Populations with WildAid

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
Slaughtered sharks on the shore.

Dan Holz / Tandemstock

S.O.S. = Save Our Sharks
Due to threats like shark finning, shark culls and accidental bycatch, sharks need our help now, more than ever. WildAid informs the public and helps promote sensible action.

Mission: Saving the world’s shark populations by building awareness, education and action
HQ: San Francisco
Year Founded: 2007; merged with WildAid in 2014
Project: Shark Savers works to reduce the demand for shark fins and to increase the scope and regulation of shark sanctuaries worldwide. “Sharks play a critical role in marine ecosystems as the top predators that keep populations of other species in balance,” says Marcel Bigue, WildAid’s marine program director. “The health of our oceans depends on them.”

In search of a worthy cause? Here’s how you can help.

Shark finning kills roughly 73 million sharks each year and is rapidly driving many species toward extinction, but you can help stop that. Join Shark Savers’ movement, I’m FINished with FINs, by signing an online pledge to not consume shark fin under any circumstances. But don’t let your involvement end with a signature: Talk to legislators about banning the practice, and locate restaurants in your community that have shark on the menu. Sparking conversation is the first step in fighting the problem.

Even if biology wasn’t exactly your best subject in school — we’re not judging — Shark Savers wants you to join the front lines with its SharksCount program. Divers of all skill levels are given tools to count and identify the sharks they see underwater. The data collected is added to an online database to help provide essential information about local shark population trends, and your dives help promote sustainable shark eco-tourism. Email and specify where you dive most often.

The Shark Sanctuary Program supports local initiatives to protect sharks around the globe. “Marine protection areas, particularly those in the developing world, are dependent upon the support and expertise of groups like WildAid to safeguard their natural treasures,” says Bigue. Donate at, and contribute to expanding and safeguarding these areas. You can also increase awareness of the importance of marine sanctuaries in your community by using educational resources available on Shark Saver’s site.

Looking for more ways to help? Here are 30 Things You Can Do For The Marine Environment

Video: Diving Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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Map of the Gardens of the Queen - Cuba

Google Maps

Jardines de la Reina
The 90-mile arc of mangroves and keys along Cuba’s southeastern coast encompasses an 850-square-mile no-take marine reserve.

Cuba is a dream destination for many divers, and this video highlights the country’s beautiful dive sites in Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen. This area is part of an 850-square-mile no-take marine reserve and is home to a huge variety of marine life including plenty of sharks, grouper, and crocodiles. The Gardens of the Queen is earning quite the reputation for the large number of sharks that can be found swimming within its pristine waters.

Ready to dive the Gardens of the Queen and take this trip yourself? Click here for trip and travel information on scuba diving Cuba.

Becoming a Shark Conservationist

Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Shawn Heinrichs in front of a pile of shark fins.

Paul Hilton

Stop Shark Finning
26-73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year.


Fighting for shark conservation is often frustrating and discouraging.

With more than a decade of investigative experience, I have seen just about every imaginable act of cruelty and wanton destruction. I have gone undercover in some of the most remote locations in the world: Taiwan, Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Fiji and Africa. My objective is to combine powerful stories with images, exposing the truth.

One chilling experience occurred in 2010 in Manta, the shark-fishing hub of Ecuador. I was on assignment to document large-scale landings of shark species. With its tuna stocks severely depleted, the local fishing community had turned to targeting sharks.

When I entered the town, the tension weighed heavily. What followed next were perhaps the most intense 24 hours of my life. In the first hour, I had to fend off teenage bandits using only my monopod. Dinner ended abruptly when the restaurant owner informed my group that intoxicated fishermen were about to storm in and assault us. We slipped quietly out the back door.

Wielding bloodstained machetes, fishermen hacked the fins off the bodies of sharks piled on the beach. Twice a razor-sharp machete was pressed against my jugular, as angry fishermen cursed me and threatened to cut my throat. Each time I defused the situation with a smile, proclaiming myself a pescador de tiburones (shark fisherman). As the last sharks were processed, our fixer grabbed me and said, “The fishermen say as soon as they are done chopping the sharks, they are coming for you.” It was time go.

Our photos were the “smoking gun” images circulated globally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Almost overnight, sharks became a priority on the CITES agenda. Finally, at the 2013 CITES meeting, historic protections for many species of sharks (and rays) were achieved.