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sdm adventures

Beautiful Trash Pandas!!!

July 21, 2019 - We went to Cozumel today. My buddies Tommy and Angel came with us to Playa to hang out for a few days and wanted to do some exploring. So we decided to take them to Cozumel Island to sight see. Of course we took off super late and only spent about an hour playing by the beach. 

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I really wanted to go, but it wasn’t for beers and the beach. DOn’t get me wrong, the beers were a super bonus. But I was after a golden prize - the Cozumel pygmy raccoon and I hoped to see the pygmy coati as well..  So when we arrived on the island, I asked our taxi driver the best place for a shot at seeing them. He sent us to resort beach area on the South side of the island. He told me they would hang around the restaurant seeking out hand outs. 

Well, after settling in on the beach, we rented some chairs, ordered a few beers and food from a waiter. I asked them where the best spot is to see raccoons was. The guy smiled and said, wait till the food arrives and they will show up.

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It wasn’t very long before I saw the first coati.  Right at the forest line on the beach, a family of pygmy coatis were there next to a dive shop, drinking water. The dive shop there, puts out big bowls of water for the animals to drink from. I quickly went over there and snapped away. Super fired up about seeing this endemic species for the first time. Shortly after that, and the reason for my visit to this beach appeared - the pygmy raccon, walked out of the bush and into the dive shop. This animal was not shy at all. 

I was on fire! One of the rarest predators on our planet, due to their small geographic range, something like only 250-300 are left. So despite the animal being comfortable and not shy, I felt extremely privileged at being able to see one of these little beauties in the wild. 

At one point, the raccoon climbed up into a coconut tree. I positioned myself under the tree and snapped images every time the raccoon looked down at me. For images this was perfection. Having this island predator on an iconic island tree was such a great opportunity. The raccoon tried to get comfortable, but just couldn’t and eventually climbed down. When she did, I was right there under her, ready to photograph her descent.

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My gang having fun out there…

My gang having fun out there…

We spent about two hours hanging out at the beach, my loves played in the water and I stayed on shore snapping away, super happy with our day. I had a blast and am really fired up about coming back for more opportunities to photograph these beautiful little predators.

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Whale Sharks, Whale Sharks and MORE Whale Sharks.

July 16, 2019 - 5:33pm our first day of whale shark diving off Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It was a good but tough day. So many new laws and regulations here, the captains were nervous as hell about it. CONAAP has everyone on their toes and up in arms. So now it is mandatory for everyone to wear life jackets. Even in the water. You can do a one free diver and one guide, but they do not allow for two anymore. Just silly.

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Over all we had an awesome day and despite the headaches of this new law, everyone had a good time. We stayed out as long as we could and everyone had a chance to get some solid whale shark time in. A very good first day. Of course there was so much food in the water that the sharks are feeding on, all my pictures are full of suck. Tomorrow is another day, hoping for patches of blue water for some decent images. Hoping for a coke bottling shark, that is always the best photo opportunities. A static shark that is just filter feeding in one spot.

July 17, 2019 - Day two of our whale shark expedition. We had a really good day - today the whale sharks were all surface feeding and there were a lot of sharks. Of course we are still dealing with the new rules, which are tough, but we will get used to them. A lot of silly bullshit if you ask me. Some of the other boats are asking for some sort of standard across the board service. Basically, they want everyone to act the same. Same crap service they give to tourists and bucket listers, who just want something to do on vacation. Which has nothing to do with the sharks or an appreciation for them.

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They want to end the service some of the better operators provide to people who want to see these sharks and want to spend quality time with these animals. It is horrible, and each year, they think of new rules to try and create more road blocks for the better operators. They even turned down prop guards for their boats, which will help protect the sharks and the swimmers. The excuse they use;  because they do not want to spend the money. It truly shows those operators do not give a shit about these animals. I saw fresh cuts on a whale shark today, just horrible when you know that it can be avoided.

July 18, 2019 - Just got back from day 3 in the water. We decided this morning to put an effort into finding manta rays. Sadly,  we did not find any. Where the hell are they? Last season they were all over the place, yet this season we have not seen any. No one has this week. Last week our captain told us they had a lot of mantas, but so far… goose egg. 

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The action today was good but hard. A lot of sharks but they wanted nothing to do with us. Part of that behavior I am very familiar with. Tomorrow it will be a great day, because the sharks will be feeding hard and they will not care about us. Hoping to find a coke bottling shark. So far I have not seen one yet. Our guests have, thankfully. Yesterday our guests had some decent coke bottling action. I stayed on the boat while they took turns photographing the shark. By the time it was my turn, the shark swam off. Tomorrow - tomorrow is my day.

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The plan tomorrow is to head out a bit earlier than our normal 9 am departure. We are headed to Contoy Island to try and find mantas, and a loggerhead for me. Still need me a loggerhead. Hoping to find a mating pair, which would be epic! The area around Contoy is always a really good spot for manta rays, so hoping to find some for our guests.

Side note; my best friend Tommy arrived here last night, along with my inlaws, and my son Gabriel. Lots of family here with my guests. Love it when my family joins me out here, it always makes travel so much more special.

July 19, 2019 - And it is over. Our time with the whale sharks has ended. It was a good four days of shark diving. No mantas, but damn, where the hell did they freaking go? This was the most stressful week of swimming with these sharks that we have ever experienced. The new rules were hard to deal with, but we made the best of it and figured out how to have an amazing time within the rules and everyone got plenty of water time. Hoping these guys get their shit together and create some rules that make sense for the sharks and the people who want to see them. 

I just did a quick check and it is officially 15 years that I have been running this trip. I have swam with whale sharks now for 15 years in a row, that is so wild. A lot of changes since that first trip. We originally started running these trips off Holbox but we decided to change the location over 10 years ago when the sharks were spending more time near Isla Mujeres then Holbox. It cut travel time by an hour each way. 

I do miss Holbox, especially now that I am big into bird photography, Holbox is a birder’s paradise. But Isla is better for our guests. It is more touristy with a lot more for them to do. 

So we spent the morning seeking out manta rays around Contoy and nada. No mantas… they are just gone this week. Our friend Tracey saw two of them down deep in the whale shark grounds. It was a super brief encounter and that was the best the mantas gave us. We spent all morning looking for them and nothing. About 11:30 we admitted defeat and went to finish up the day with the whale sharks. The sharks were everywhere, lots of feeding sharks AND lots of coke bottling sharks. 

Our guests had a lot of opportunities to photograph these sharks and they all left the water happy. On my final swim of the trip, I followed a slow swimming shark for a short while, when magic happened. She stopped swimming and went vertical. I finally got my coke bottling shark. She allowed me to snap a few images of her, before she decided to start swimming again. I was on fire and so very grateful for these amazing animals and this amazing place. 

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Tonite we will get together for one final group meal together. Going to have dinner by the water to watch the sunset. A perfect way to end this weird but wonderful trip. Thanks to all our friends who joined us, you all are amazing souls. Love you guys.

Spider Monkeys and some Wicked Cool Bugs!

July 11, 2019 - Coba, Mexico. So the girls and I. Mari, Sophia and my niece Oya rented a car today from my buddy Andres and we drove to Coba, Mexico this afternoon. The plan was to visit Punta Laguna National Reserve to seek out spider monkeys and howler monkeys, and other wildlife that we might find. I wanted David to go with us, but he had divers today so he couldn’t get away. 

This is just a quick visit for us and our second time visiting this park, we went three years ago. It is such a great spot, we had to return. I really wanted another shot at photographing these monkeys. It is such a challenge to capture nice images of these primates, because they are up in the tree canopy and the great light is lost in the thickness of the leaves here - and I am not a fan of using strobes on wildlife, so I avoid it when I can. We just have to look for opportunities for images and that takes some work.

It is an easy trip from Playa. The reserve is an hour and 26 minutes away. So we packed an over night bag and hit the road, to try and find some animals to photograph. The plan was to visit the park at dusk when the monkeys come in close to the entrance to sleep, and then again in the early morning when they were just waking up, seeking breakfast in the fruit trees. Spider monkeys are easiest to find, but the coveted howler monkeys are a lot tougher. 

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We checked into the hotel and hid from the scorching afternoon sun. Today was hot. We prepped cameras and took off around 4:30pm and drove to the reserve which was about a 20 minute drive.

When we got to the reserve we paid our entrance fees and hired a guide. The guides walk these parks everyday and know where the best spots to find these primates are. After we paid our fees, we told our guide what we wanted  which was monkeys of course, he said ok, then walked us to the parking lot where a bunch of spider monkeys were feeding on the fruit of one of the forest trees. They were on the low hanging branches and in good light, so Sophia and I snapped a bunch of images. We spent about 10 minutes with them and then pushed on. We joked with our guide saying that he was pretty much done now. He got a kick out of that.

Spider monkeys can live to be 45-50 years old. This guy was definitely a very old monkey.

Spider monkeys can live to be 45-50 years old. This guy was definitely a very old monkey.

He took us deeper into the forest where we found more spider monkeys, they were up high, jumping from tree to tree, I managed to snap a shot of the monkey jumping, however, my ISO was a bit too high, so it is a bit blown out. I was bummed but still happy I managed a decent jumping shot of one. A new challenge begins!

Spider monkey jumping from tree to tree.

Spider monkey jumping from tree to tree.

After we found these guys, our guide ( I feel bad calling him our guide in this story, but I forgot the kids name.), took us onto a small jungle trail where he found us a family of about 20 spider monkeys all feeding on fruit. There were some very young babies with this group, and once we played with our settings, we were able to capture a few amazing shots. One of the babies was very curious about us and climbed to the low hanging branches to get a better look at us, his vigilant mother, was feeding nearby, watching him, to make sure he didn’t get into too much trouble.

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We shot for a while then pressed on, now in search of howler monkeys. These are awesome little monkeys that look like tiny gorillas, and they have a tremendous roar. If you heard them and did not know what was roaring in the jungle, it would scare the crap out of you. 

Next to one of the trails we were walking on, our guide showed us a big area where there was a lot of dirt piles which were home to leaf cutter ants. He pointed out this huge trail where the ants were busy bringing leaves home. It was so fascinating. I have a macro lens which I brought in case we found cool small stuff, but I left it in the hotel room. At this point I was kicking myself hard for missing the opportunity. We had the next best thing, our iPhones did a great job of recording the ants working away. Such cool little animals. 

After we left the ants, our guide kept searching and led us to a lone male howler monkey eating leaves up high… freaking jackpot. He kind of knew it was in the area from one of the other guides, but actually finding it is another story. The guide was good, howler monkeys are so hard to find, so we were pumped that we found one. We tried to capture images of him, but he was never in a good position for a nice shot. Hoping we get another shot at him tomorrow morning. Despite not getting any decent images, it was still really exciting seeing one. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in capturing images, you forget to just enjoy watching them.

We finished up the tour with a stop at the lagoon. It was huge and absolutely beautiful. Some rain clouds were out there killing our view of the setting sun, but it was still amazing to see.

Our guide showed us one last exciting sight before we called it a day; feeding Yucatan locusts. These are really big bugs and there were hundreds of them. They feed on the bark of a very particular tree, it was so interesting and fun watching and trying to photograph these guys. 

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Over all a great afternoon of wildlife and a fun day with my girls. Looking forward to tomorrow morning…

Journal Notes of our Croc Diving Trip #2

July 6, 2019 - Sitting here at Banco Chinchorro at the end of the day. This was our first day of croc diving and it went well. Gambit showed up to give our friends one hell of a show. Of course, she was not the first to show up, we had a small croc show up, around 6 feet in length and she was a sweet little hot fire. I had not met her before, I don’t think? We also had a third croc come in, one I know I have seen before. It has a crooked jaw and one bottom tooth that sits square in the middle of its face. He also has a big portion of his tail missing. Whether it was bitten off or cut off I am not sure, but it is gone. Just makes it easy to identify the croc from a distance.

A croc named Bobo. His/her tail has been chopped off. Gambit (below) getting a snack.

A croc named Bobo. His/her tail has been chopped off. Gambit (below) getting a snack.


Mark going through footage.

Mark going through footage.

Our guests who joined us had a good time and enjoyed the crocs, not that I didn’t think they wouldn’t. But it is always nice and my favorite part of any trip we do when we know that someone truly appreciates these animals the way I do. We still have two more days of croc diving to go before we head back to mainland. Just happy it was a good day, with a kick ass crossing. Super freaking happy about that. Nothing worse than a shit ass crossing, (last week’s crossing was horrible). Now - all that is left for our day; pour through today’s images ( I think I managed one or two today that I am happy with), eat dinner, super hungry right now, and hit the hammock for a good nights sleep. Till tomorrow. 

July 7, 2019 - 8PM. Today was a tough day for crocs, they just did not want to play. We had them come in, but they did not want to hang around, they were super skittish. They would come in, and within minutes, they would leave. Felt crappy for the boys, because that is why they are here, but that is nature, and you get what you get.  They are all still fired up because of yesterday’s action. We spent about six hours with them, so that was good. But I still wanted some better action for them. The crew from XTC tried super hard to get them to come in, but they just didn’t want to play. We had thunder and rain storms come in hard for a while, which may have contributed to why the crocs did not want to come in? Not sure?

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The highlights for the day was the dive this morning, we went out hunting for lion fish for bait for the crocs, we ended up killing 19 of them, with a few escapes. Garin, one of our guests hunts lion fish in Bermuda where he lives, so we gave him a spear and it was comedy when he had a few of them escape when he shot at them. Mark recorded a video of it and you can hear Mark laughing and giving him hell when it happened. Love that a bond between these guys and this group is building.

We also visited the ranger station to get a look at the crocs and iguanas on the beach. The iguanas are shedding right now and getting their amazing breeding colors in, they look so freaking beautiful. We played with the crocs on the beach, one of the locals brought some bait out for us and called in the crocs. A couple of them came in. They are obviously bringing them out onto the beach, becuase these crocs came right out of the water at us. 

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I am flat out just a wildlife junky, becuase I was trying to capture images of everything on the island (wildlife); I snapped a couple shots of an anole. They have two species, one comes from mainland Mexico, the other is an endemic species. I captured a picture of the mainland species. My next trip out is this coming August, I will try for the endemic one. One of my favorite things about the island is it’s an amazing place for a hard to find warbler species; Mangrove warblers. Every time I visit the island, my goal is to try and capture better and better images of these cute little birds. On this trip, I captured a picture of a female mangrove warbler and I snapped a shot of the male last week - I was pretty happy with that shot, but fired up I captured a nice picture of the female as well.

Female mangrove warbler. Below is the male and a pic of the anole.

Female mangrove warbler. Below is the male and a pic of the anole.

Over all a decent day of wildlife, our guests all got some great images of everything we experienced here. I also captured a bunch of video clips, will try to load them onto our youtube channel later. Now we just need some better in water action for our guests, hoping tomorrow (which is our final day), is better.

July 8, 2019 -  It is late as shit, tired and bit on the feeling good side. We returned from Chinchorro. It turned into a super amazing trip. Today we had crocs! In fact we had five different crocs visit us. Our final day was the stuff dreams are made of, our guests had an amazing time and they all captured images they are happy with and spent some quality time with very different croc personalities. Our buddy Greg had just bought a new camera before this trip and happy I was able to help him dial it in so that he could snap some images he was happy with.

From the very mellow Gambit, to the super fiery Pinto. We also had a new croc show up, which was a monster croc. Bigger than Gambit and super thick. We dubbed him Godzilla. He was new to divers and it showed. He was wild and crazy and very bitey. We had to be cautious around him. Hoping he becomes one of the regulars we see, becuase he was fun. Sadly I did not capture any video or stills of him, but hoping he returns in August.

Pinto in her usually very active mood.

Pinto in her usually very active mood.


I was pretty happy to capture hero shots of the boys with the crocs, they all wanted one. It makes for a great reminder of a really fun trip when you have a nice shot of you and the animals. Especially an animal like a crocodile. They are just an exciting species.

A gift from my buddy Christian Kemper. He wrote this book about crocs and gave me a copy of it. It is written in German so I don’t know what is says, but the pics are amazing. Thank you brother.

A gift from my buddy Christian Kemper. He wrote this book about crocs and gave me a copy of it. It is written in German so I don’t know what is says, but the pics are amazing. Thank you brother.

We left the Cabin today (Casa Matraca), and returned to Xcalak. The group loved the trip and that makes me happy. They hated leaving, but didn’t mind returning to civilization for a shower and a beer.

July 9, 2019 - Went out for a morning dive to try and find manatees. On last week’s trip we found them, which was way over due for me. I have been diving here for five years and I’ve never seen one. So it was a massive relief for me to finally capture an image of one. Sadly we didn’t see one this morning. Our group was just thrilled to get wet this morning. Diving is always a great way to start your day.

I am writing this while waiting for Andres, our driver to pick us up and take us to Playa del Carmen for our final night of the trip. I had a lot of fun with this group, the boys got on well and there was a lot of back and forth jabbing at each other. Always makes the trip a lot fun when that happens…

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July 10, 2019 - Last night we celebrated the end of the trip together, and laughed into the night. Such a great way to finish off this fun and amazing adventure. Thanks again to our friends who joined us out here and thank you to XTC, our host operator for always kicking ass for us… Until August and to my buddies, safe travels home, miss you guys already and till the next one.

Mark is missing from the picture becuase he had to leave early, but we have his passport in the pic. He was there in spirit.

Mark is missing from the picture becuase he had to leave early, but we have his passport in the pic. He was there in spirit.

Travel Day... Croc Diving Trip 2.

July 5, 2019 - Travel Day… Headed to Xcalak Mexico for our second croc diving trip of the 2019 season. Yes, we are taking our new group of friends out there to swim with crocodiles. The down side, it is another 5 hour drive to get from Cancun to Xcalak, and then a minimum 2 hour boat ride to get to Banco Chinchorro. Why are all the best places so freaking hard to get too? This week we are taking 6 people from very different parts of the world; Belgium, Australia, Guatemala, Bermuda, California and New York. The accents you hear are always fun. Super pumped to introduce them to the crocs tomorrow. The weather looks favorable for us and I am referring to the crossing from Xcalak to Banco Chinchorro, because once you are at Chinchorro, the weather is always good.

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Last week, the crossing kicked our ass. It normally takes about two and half hours to get there, and less than two hours on a smooth glassy day. But last week’s crossing took us 5 hours of crap weather. It was a beating on the body and soul man. The winds and the swells kicked us around and kept us wet the entire ride. Hoping for a nicer ocean crossing for this group, and not going to lie, for me!

The croc action last week was pretty good, Gambit (the star croc of Chinchorro), was with us two of the three days. She/he is getting big. I know it is a slow growth, but finally she is starting to girth up. Hoping to see her get in to the teen sizes, here in the next few years. It always makes for a more amazing dive when you get these monster sized animals coming in to play with.

So an update from yesterday’s blog, and my new art project. I am super pumped that I am almost finished with the photos for my friend Sandra, the amazing soul that gave me the honor of allowing me to share my work on the walls of our local hospital. So far I have sent about 46 images to my buddy Chris, who is printing them up for me, and drop shipping them to the framer. I still need 6 more and then I am done with my part until they do the red carpet opening party they have planned, which should be fun. I just hope I am in town for that. Excited that my daughter Sophia will have a few images up there with me, along with my brother in law, AJ. 

We need to add some variety to the art we are displaying for local wildlife and it wouldn’t be complete without some RGV reptiles, and sadly, I didn’t have any, but AJ for sure did. He loves capturing images of local wildlife as well, so I asked if he had a few images that he would allow us to use for the project. He was fired up about it and sent me a lot to choose from. I found three that were pretty amazing. So anyway, this is today’s update for the blog. I will try and finish up a video for the trip before I return from Chinchorro, to share with you guys when I get back to Playa for our final night of the trip.

This one didn’t make the cut, but one similar to it did. This shot is pretty amazing though.

This one didn’t make the cut, but one similar to it did. This shot is pretty amazing though.

I am going to try and write up a daily blog when I can and I wanted to write one up before we left to the island tomorrow, but not sure if I can, since we are leaving at 8am tomorrow morning. Tomorrow will be a bit of chaos, because we will be packing for a two night stay at Casa Matracka’s fishing cabin. So not sure if I will have time, but will try. For now, good night my friends…

Mexico Madness... Our Summer Continues.

Hey guys, so I have been super behind on blogs and vlogs and updates. So sorry about that, the craziness of our summer has begun and it is hard trying to keep everyone up to date on what we have been doing and where we have been going. Well, it is a bit easier on our social media pages, because we can drop an image to share what we did that day or week. It is fast and easy. So if you are not following us on Facebook and Instagram, get on it.

I did post a vlog from our Africa trip, well the first day of the trip. I recorded one everyday and I wanted to do all five days, but I have not been able to. Here is the reason why. Right now, I have been commissioned to provide 50 plus images for one of the big hospitals in our area, which is remodeling their entire first floor, with all new framed images, and I have been given the honor of having our wildlife pictures, of both local wildlife, and ocean wildlife for this project. So for the past month and change, I have been seeking out some of mine, and Sophia’s favorite and best images for this project. It has been super time consuming and a lot of fun. Looking forward to sharing with you guys, this project when it is done.

Anyway, I am almost finished with submitting the images and once that is done, I can try and catch up with more vlogs, blogs, and trip reports, for you guys. I need to write up Africa and Baja orcas (I am so behind). So far I have submitted 40 of the 50 images already to our printer, but I still need 10 more to go. So I promised myself this blog would be short, because I need to finish this up before I leave tomorrow for our second crocodile diving trip to Banco Chinchorro.

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This morning, I said good bye to our guests who joined us on the first trip. Writing this on the couch in our (Air BnB) apartment in Mexico. The people you meet on these trips are always cool, and it’s sad saying goodbye. We had a great week with the crocs and it was good to see Gambit again and Fireball, two crocodiles I have gotten to know through the years, they are such amazing animals. I also finally got the chance to finally see a manatee out here, it was an animal I have been really wanting to see but never got the opportunity. It was a long wait- after 5 or 6 seasons, I saw that beautiful mermaid.

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So, going to stop here because I need to get back at it. And I am going to try and keep you guys updated a bit more on this journey of mine, even if I can’t get to editing vlogs for you guys, I will start writing in this journal more. I have some crazy projects that I want to do and will be sharing as I move forward. But until then, wishing you guys an amazing summer, and I promise to keep you guys posted more.

Images I Shared this week on Social Media

MARCH 10 - 16, 2019
I was going through images this week, I shared on social media. I always try not to repost images I have shared before, so that we are always putting out something new. The thing about social media is, images are lost in time. The speed of news and storytelling is always so fast, especially on Facebook, that most images never get seen. So, I thought I would try something new this weekend and share the images here in a blog.

Well not ALL the images I posted, but just the ones from this week’s stuff. March 10 - 16 to be exact. And just the header images, since I change them out, sometimes daily. Anyway, hopefully you will enjoy this and the short stories that went with capturing the images as well. As always my friends, thank you for reading and viewing my content.


SAIL

SAIL

This capture was from our December trip. I was trying get a different angle of Patches (the great hammerhead). I love this species, their dorsal fins are so impressive. This was the first day we had her on the trip, and it during our morning dive. The thing was, we had crap weather the day before, so there was a lot of debris and sand flying around still. So the images I captured were just coming out horrible. I loved the image, but when I went to process it in photoshop, it was just coming out blah, so I decided to try playing with it in black and white, and it seemed to work. Sometimes, when you think an image is lost, try a little creativity and you never know.

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This was taken on the same day, later in the afternoon when the currents and the dust settled. We were in a very shallow spot, maybe 18 feet deep, and I was coming up at the end of the dive. I was hanging on the down line, after I believe, over an hour long dive and Patches was swimming around. Because of the earlier currents, and the previous days bad weather, the ocean floor was laid out in a beautiful perfect looking pattern. I saw her swimming below and swam out to snap this image of her from above, while she slowly swam by.

Dirty Girl

Dirty Girl

Keeping with the shark theme right now, this is Dirty Girl, one of the larger tigers hanging around tiger beach. The first season, we met her she was a very fiesty girl. Normally the tigers are just fiesty around the feeders, but she was very aggressive around the guests as well. I had to keep a very close eye on her when she would swim in. I later learned, due to the way she was behaving, that she was in season and was maybe lashing out at everyone, believing they were trying to mate with her. And if you ask, how do I know she was in season? There is something tigers do, when they are in season which is super unique, that is hard to explain without video…and she repeatedly did it.

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I am pretty sure I have shared this top image of a mom and calf in the past, however, I think I had shared in on one of my pages, and not all three. Yes I have three FB social media pages, one personal, one for our company, SDM adventures, and one for my photography, Eli Martinez. If you are not following those pages, it is a must… for awesome content, news, stories and a devastatingly handsome photographer! AND NO… I am not biased at all when I say that last bit. lol. Anyway, back to reality and my story…

Visiting Tonga and seeing first hand the relationship between mothers and calves is something you will never forget… you can feel the love in the water. The babies are babies, playing around, dancing, and sometimes breaching. The mothers are normally resting below. The babies need more air then the mothers, so they come up quite often, play for a couple of minutes then return down to her, touching her, getting reassuring nudges from her, and when they rise up together, they are constantly touching and bonding all the way up. It is so damn beautiful.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

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This was a shot from our April 2018 visit to Machu Picchu in Peru. Still one of the coolest places I have ever visited. The magic of this place is indescribable. I wish I had done more homework when we planned the original trip, because there are nearby rainforests that I could of visited for shots at birds, monkeys and bears. Next time… we are planning a return trip to the area, possibly even organizing a trip for it. Between the rainforests and Machu Picchu, it is an epic trip.

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One of my most favorite days in the water. We encountered a pod of spotted dolphins off Bimini. This was during a trip we run for them. We had to cancel this season’s trip, there was not a lot of interest in it. Not sure why? It’s an awesome trip. Anyway, we had a pod of very friendly dolphin’s hanging around for over an hour with us. Super social, some were mating, which I captured with stills. I was on fire about that. This group of dolphins swam up to me and went through me. Of course, I WISH, they would of done that with the sun on my back, instead of in front of me, because it yellowed out this image badly. So if they had done this with the sun on my back I would of had amazingly beautiful blue water, with these dolphins, instead I had this greenish looking tint in the background.

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I tried to get as low as possible when I photographed this giant river otter in the Pantanal, Brazil. It is difficult when you are in a moving boat, trying to photograph a fast moving subject. But with a high shutter speed and ridiculous amounts of sunlight (It was freaking hot and VERY sunny when we encountered these guys), I managed to capture a few images. This was captured while these guys were hunting.

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Macro photography is new to me, but I fell instantly in love with it, when I decided to practice in my backyard, on this tiny guy. This orchard spider is no bigger than a mosquito, but I was blown away with how much color it had. LIKE WHY? Why is an animal so tiny and so colorful, it just didn’t make sense to me. So since this first session, I have gone on a crazed spider kick and will be posting a blog this week on some of my macro images I captured of this tiny predatory animals. The next level for me will be stacking images. I still have a lot to learn about it, but can’t wait to get into it. I know this is different for me, but as I travel on this photography journey of mine, learning how to shoot anything and everything when it comes to wildlife is a must, if I am ever going to be able to help someone improve their photography, especially when they are with us on our travels. I want our guests to have the best experience possible.

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I saved the craziest for last. I went through my crocodile images and found one I hadn’t shared yet from our 2018 expedition. Crocodiles are such amazing photo subjects and are a must for all big animal photographers. They are big and scary looking, mostly slow moving, and will hang around for hours, giving you plenty of opportunities to capture some unique images or behaviors. I absolutely LOVE photographing them. You can do no wrong with these guys.

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So there you go… a few of my images from this weeks posts. Hopefully you like what you see and will comment, share it, or at least give it a thumbs up. Thanks for visiting our website.

Hugs and I will hopefully see you out in the world.
- Eli

Norway Adventure Photo Gallery

So I finally got around to editing the majority of the images from our Norway trip and cut together an album I am happy with. I do admit, I really miss the crazy cold conditions we had while visiting Norway. I miss the crunching of the snow, the beautiful white powder everywhere, I miss photographing wildlife while the snow fell, and especially the tension that was building every time we all walked together with our group in the snow. Someone was always looking over their shoulder, for fear that a snowball fight might ensue. Lol, but I do miss the fun we had with our amazing group out there. Anyway, here is the album I cut together from the trip, I hope you enjoy.

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My BEST and WORST Day at Tiger Beach!

Totally Gutted!
January 29, 2019, - So I dropped down for a feed on our second dive of the day and we had Patches the great hammerhead and a hand full of lemons buzzing around. No tigers. There was one lemon who was buzzing me pretty close that caught my attention. Her skin had a few wart looking spots on her and a crack on the left side of her gills. I started calling her Cracks. Just the name that came to mind. 

Anyway, Cracks approached close on her passes, and so I started giving her a nose rub. She really enjoyed it and came back for more. Before I knew it, Cracks came in for the rub and once I started, she would stop swimming and drop her tail onto the sand... Like, completely stop swimming. Of course Patches, would come in and push her off, but I really enjoyed this interaction with Cracks. So, every time she would swim up to me, I would rub her, and each time, she would drop. 

During one interaction, when she dropped, I just sort of stretched her out and allowed her to drop all the way down to lay down in front of me. This was the first time a swimming lemon shark, swam up to me, where I would rub her nose and she went completely still and drop down into the sand for me. It was one of the most amazing moments of my career. I was on fire. In all the years of working with lemon sharks, this had never happened before. It was a new behavior and I couldn’t be happier that I got to be a part of this magic.  A few people were around me with cameras and I couldnt wait to go up and check out what they captured. This moment, and this interaction, is the stuff I dream about when I think of sharks. 

THEN, reality hit my ass…  NO ONE had captured it on video, my heart sank. A few stills here and there and my buddy / safety diver Houston, got a short piece of it on video, but not the entire interactions, I was gutted. They all thought this was normal and didn’t think much of it. I saw everyone filming, so I assumed it was being filmed, but nope! Something, I need to make sure doesn’t happen next time. I will beg someone to capture it. Of course, if there is a next time?

Easily the COOLEST lemon shark interaction I have EVER had in my entire career diving at Tiger Beach, and sadly I don’t have the entire video to share with the world. I have it in my heart and mind, but showing people what is possible with these amazing animals is lost this time. Hopefully, I will get another opportunity with Cracks, but it is so rare that we do not have tiger sharks on our dives, I do not think that opportunity will happen again. The moment is with me forever, but I really would of loved to share that moment with you all.

Thank you for reading…

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The Making of a National Geographic Photographer

Hey guys, so here is the latest episode of SDM adventures. We were invited by our friends at Big River Brewery to present our daughter Sophia’s photography work. She was nervous and excited and totally up for the challenge of putting herself out there to showcase her work. She is such a fun kid and full of energy. Super proud of her accomplishments and her passion for wildlife photography…hope you enjoy.