This is a follow-up to my post “I Photograph Great White Sharks In (Hopefully) A Non-Scary Way.” I’m George Probst, and I have been photographing the great white sharks of Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe, since 2006. The island is a known aggregation point for the species during the fall months and is considered one of the best places in the world to photograph them, due to the high visibility and crystal blue waters that surround the island.
Over the years, I have been photographing these sharks in attempt to give a broader representation of them than just the typical open-jaw shots that are often seen in the media. While the drama associated with prey events often takes center stage when these animals are documented in photos and on video, these events only make up a small fraction of the sharks’ typical behavior. I try to capture a more well-rounded view of the sharks, which admittedly can be less sensational than those open-jaw shots and feeding events, but I think these types of images are important to show to audiences who might not ever get the chance to see them in the wild.
One of the benefits of an aggregation point is that some of the same sharks regularly return year after year. After spending some time in the water with them, their individual “personalities” start to show through, and I try to capture these aspects in some of the portraits I’ve shot. Many of the individuals we encounter are very wary of divers and keep their distance. However, there are certain individuals that are more curious, and those are the ones that tend to be better photography subjects, which is why some of the same sharks show up time after time in my images.
As always, it’s important to point out that while these animals aren’t out to get people like the sharks we see in movies like “Jaws,” they are still wild predatory animals that can certainly be dangerous under the wrong circumstances, so interacting with them requires certain precautions. At Guadalupe, where these shots were taken, federal regulations require the use of diving cages for the safety of both divers and sharks.
All of the photos shared here were taken using only natural light with housed Canon DSLRs (350D and 5D Mark III) with UWA rectilinear lenses (EF-S 17-85mm, EF 17-40mm F4L, EF 16-35mm F4L). Here are some of the images I’ve capture of what I believe are some amazing animals. I hope you enjoy them!
More info: sharkpix.com
The Legendary Cal Ripfin
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder), a 14′ (4.25m) male with uniquely damaged dorsal fin, was my favorite shark to photograph up until he disappeared after the 2011 season. His inquisitive nature often created great photo opportunities.
Up Close and Personal
A curious male swim right up to the dome of my camera. He blue iris is visible in this shot as are his ampullae of Lorenzini, which can detect electrical fields. It is theorized that sharks take interest in cameras due to the electrical fields they emit.
Lucy, a 16′ (4.9m) female, suffered an injury to her caudal fin (tail) many years ago. Despite the damage to her tail, she has managed to continue to grow and maintain a healthy weight over the years.
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder), a 14′ (4.25m) male, was well-known for his curious nature, which made him a great subject to photograph.
Monkey, a male, approaches the surface vertically from below. An ambush predator, the white shark targets unsuspecting prey, including elephant seals and sea lions, from below and then vertically charges to attack.
Micks, a male, splashes through the water’s surface after a partial breach.
Legend – side profile
Legend, a 13′ (4m) male, is one of most curious individuals I’ve encountered at the island.
From the depths
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) rises from the darker deep water. A second shark can be seen in the deeper water just below Cal’s left pectoral fin.
Lucy swims with a very distinct exaggerated motion of her tail, due to her damaged caudal fin.
Biteface (aka Pancho Villa), is a 14′ (4.25m) male, who typically has bite wounds from other great white sharks. Bite wounds on females are often associated with mating injuries, but males often have their fair share as well, and male on male biting has been documented, so bites aren’t limited to mating.
Tzitzimitl, a 17′ (5.2m) female, commands attention whenever she is around. While she is not the largest shark at Guadalupe she’s definitely up there in terms of size. Her movements are often slow and deliberate, but she seemingly hasn’t outgrown her curiosity.
A Wee Lass
This juvenile female, estimated at about 6′ (1.8m), is one of the smallest individuals I’ve encountered at Guadalupe. While the larger sharks seem to get all the attention, the young sharks have an appeal of their own.
Checking Out the Camera
Legend came within a few centimeters of my camera’s dome a couple of times on this particular dive. He seemed very curious about the camera but fortunately was not aggressive toward it.
This younger male ascends toward the surface from the depths below. The younger, smaller individuals often move more erratically than their older, larger counterparts.
A Smile for the Camera
Monkey turns toward the camera with his ever present “smile” as a spearfish remora hitches a ride on his underside.
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