Nature's Best Photography: 2010 Ocean Views

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Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, The Bahamas

Photographer Comment: “At night, the spotted dolphins of Little Bahama Bank move offshore into the Gulf Stream’s deep waters in search of squid. One night, the boat’s captain, Jim Abernethy, spotted a small group of them riding the bow. We stopped the engines, turned on the floodlights, and got in the water. Using manual focus and a light attached to the camera, I was able to get this unusual reflective perspective.”

Camera information: Canon EOS 5D; EF 15mm ƒ/2.8 fisheye lens; 1/200 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 200; Sea & Sea DX-5D housing; Sea & Sea YS-250 strobes. Andrew Sallmon / Nature’s Best Photography
Photographer Comment:

“This hatchling is one of many being guided toward the ocean by conservationists on this remote beach in Costa Rica. Leatherback turtles are critically endangered in the eastern Pacific, and this young turtle is a symbol of hope for their future.” Nikon D2X; 12-24mm lens; Nikon SB-800 flash; 1/100 sec at ƒ/5.6; Singh Ray 3-stop hard edge graduated neutral density filter; hand-held.

Camera information: Nikon D2X; 12-24mm lens; Nikon SB-800 flash; 1/100 sec at ƒ/5.6; Singh Ray 3-stop hard edge graduated neutral density filter; hand-held. Jason Bradley / Nature’s Best Photography
Hammerhead Shark, Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Photographer Comment: “This shark was cruising low along the reef known as Alcyone. Her left eye was glancing up toward other hammerheads when I took this shot from a hiding spot below. Having all the camera settings pre-tested and ready for the particular depth and ambient light was really helpful—as was having Lady Luck on my side.”

Camera information: Nikon D300; Tokina fisheye 10-17mm DX at 17mm; 1/80 sec at ƒ/7.1; ISO 200; Sea & Sea flash; YS 110 strobes (2); Sea & Sea MDX housing; compact dome port; extension ring. Alan Studley / Nature’s Best Photography
Polar Bears, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Photographer Comment: “In late November, land-locked polar bears gather along the western Hudson Bay to await the formation of Arctic ice so they can return to their seal-hunting grounds for the winter. While waiting, the polar bears often engage in physical contact ranging from fierce sparring to gentle touching. This shot was taken from the back deck of an Arctic tundra buggy following their playful exhibition on the frozen shore of Gordon Point.”

Camera information: Nikon D200; 80-400mm AF VR lens; 1/320 sec at ƒ/11; ISO 1000; beanbag. Alan Zipp / Nature’s Best Photography
Humpback Whale, Herring Gulls, and Northern Sand Lances Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Near Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA

Photographer Comment: “Each season, my wife Anna and I embark on trips aboard whale-watching vessels to tour Stellwagen Bank. Late spring offers the best views of bubble-and-lunge feeding. Often, flocks of gulls give advance warning that a whale is coming to the surface, driving a school of sand lances ahead of it. This humpback uses its lower jaw to strain the fish off the surface as gulls dart in to snatch their own meals, sometimes right out of the whale’s open mouth.”

Camera information: Canon EOS 50D with battery grip; EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 IS lens; 1.4x teleconverter; 1/800 sec at ƒ/5.0; ISO 200; hand-held. Bryce Flynn / Nature’s Best Photography
Squid at Sunset Reef Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Photographer Comment: “Upon returning from the reef after a night dive, my light caught a bright reflection. I swam toward it and came eye-to-eye with this beautiful, curious squid. He posed, turned, posed, ascended, posed, descended, posed, and explored my strobe, lens port, and mask. I noticed that my strobes seemed to be lighting him from the inside, making this shot even more unusual.”

Camera information: Nikon D700; 105mm ƒ/2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at ƒ/25; ISO 200; Aquatica AD700 housing; Dual INON Z240s strobes. Charles Viggers / Nature’s Best Photography
Sunset, Ecola State Park, Near Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

Photographer Comment: “The receding tide left a multitude of starfish in tide pools clinging to exposed rocks along the shore. I was moved by their deep orange and purple coloration and how they matched the rich hues of the setting sun against the textures of the rocky beach.”

Camera information: Nikon D300; 10.5mm DX lens; 1/4 sec at ƒ/22; ISO 200; Bogen Manfrotto 1055MF4; Magfiber Pro CF tripod; Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR ballhead. David E. Becker / Nature’s Best Photography
Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park, Oregon, USA

Photographer Comment: “The receding tide left what seemed like a football field’s length of flat sand between the ocean and me. The sand being very wet from the gentle coming and going of waves left a mirror like surface. Wanting to capture the full spectrum of colors and the abstract feel of the scene I sought a section of the beach without any other objects that would distract from the image and introduced a horizontal panning motion to blur this landscape of sand, ocean and sunset sky.”

Camera information: Nikon D300; 14-24mm lens at 24.0mm; 1/500 sec at f/8.0; ISO 200; Bogen/Manfrotto 1055MF4 Magfiber Pro CF tripod; Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR. David E Becker / Nature’s Best Photography
Blue Ribbon Eel, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Photographer Comment: “This fascinating species is often found in the sandy rubble of Lembeh Straits. It is unusual to find an eel off the reef and on the move. This one was swimming in my direction, perhaps to look for a new habitat, and I had no time to adjust my camera settings or focus—I just fired. It was incredible to see this rare spectacle pass by me; I was at the right place at the right time!”

Camera information: Nikon D200; 60mm lens; 1/60 sec at ƒ/6.3; ISO 100; Sea & Sea DX200 housing. David Henshaw / Nature’s Best Photography
Giant Pacific Manta Ray, Roca Partida Sea Mount, Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico

Photographer Comment: “In winter, many species of shark and ray gather around the Revillagigedos Islands. The manta rays will spontaneously interact with divers, gently approaching until they are very close. A face-to-face encounter initiated by such a huge, peaceful animal is truly an unforgettable experience!”

Camera information: Nikon D70; 12-24mm; 1/100 sec at ƒ/11; ISO 200; Subal ND70 housing; Ikelite DS125 strobe. Deborah Smrekar / Nature’s Best Photography
Glasseye Snapper, Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain

Photographer Comment: “An air bubble formed inside an underwater cave offered a perfect, mirror-like reflection of this resting fish. It took nearly an hour to get the right composition.”

Camera information: Canon EOS 5D; 100mm lens; 1/250 sec at ƒ/29; ISO 100; Ikelite 125 strobes (2); Seacam 5D housing. Eduardo Acevedo / Nature’s Best Photography
Blue-veined Octopus, Anilao Batangas Pier, Philippines

Photographer Comment: “The blue-veined octopus is a highly intelligent cephalopod that displays tool-using behavior. It utilizes empty shells as shelter and, perhaps more interestingly, as a means of defense and protection. As I approached with my lights during a night dive, the octopus immediately shut the shell to protect its soft body.”

Camera information: Nikon D300; 105mm VR macro lens; 1/320 sec at ƒ/25; ISO 200; Sea and Sea MDX-d300 housing; Inon Z240 strobes (2). Jeffrey de Guzman / Nature’s Best Photography
Blood Star and Barnacles, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Photographer Comment: “Like rare gems, blood stars are hard to find, revealing themselves to the persistent nature photographer only during extremely low Spring tides along the lowest reaches of the intertidal zone. At any other time, one needs diving gear to look for them. Arriving early one morning at one of my favorites stretches on the Schootic Point extension of Acadia National Park, I had to work quickly to find this starfish, set up my gear, and make this composition before the tide reversed and the ocean reclaimed this graceful echinoderm.”

Camera Information: Nikon FE2; 200mm; Micro Nikkor ƒ/4 lens; 1/4 sec at ƒ/22; Fujichrome Velvia ASA 50 film; Gitzo Studex tripod; Novaflex focusing rail; Manfrotto 3047 head. Gustav W. Verderber / Nature’s Best Photography
Green Sea Turtle, Armeñime, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Photographer Comment: “Shooting in this shallow dive spot was a challenge because the sun was shining brightly. I decided to compose the shot with the sun behind the turtle’s head. I have returned to this location many times to photograph, but no other shot has come out like this.”

Camera information: Nikon D200; Tokina 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 lens at 10mm; 1/250 sec at ƒ/19; ISO 100; Seacam Seaflash 250 TTL strobes (2); Seacam D200 housing. Pedro Carrillo / Nature’s Best Photography
Black Skimmer, Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York, USA

Photographer Comment: “Nickerson Beach was flooded after a recent high tide. I visited the area at sunrise and found this skimmer feeding, providing me with the reflection shot I had envisioned.”

Camera information: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III; EF 500mm ƒ/4 IS lens; 1.4x teleconverter; 1/1600 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 400; Gitzo 3541LS tripod; Wimberly side kick; Arca-Swiss B1 ballhead. James A. Galletto / Nature’s Best Photography
Diver at Sunset, Monterey, California, USA

Photographer Comment: “To be honest, this image wasn’t in my minds-eye in the slightest. There were lots of other images I was thinking about that evening, but as my buddy was entering the water, I looked up and saw his silhouette. I didn’t think much of it, but once I got my camera back to the computer, I knew this was the shot of the day.”

Camera information: Nikon D700; 17-35mm lens; 1/125 sec at f/11; ISO 500; hand-held. Jason Bradley / Nature’s Best Photography
Great Barracuda, Witu Islands, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Photographer Comment: The Story: “A four-foot-long barracuda displayed typical inquisitiveness as it loitered under my dive boat throughout the evening. Here the fish is visible flashing past me, with the sky and the lights of my boat seen above.”

Camera information: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III; EF 16-35mm lens; 1/5 sec at ƒ/9; ISO 1250; Seacam housing; Inon Z240 strobes (2). Yeang H. Ch’ng / Nature’s Best Photography
Grey Seal, Donna Nook Reserve, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, England, UK

Photographer Comment: “I noticed this individual as I was photographing a group of seals hauled out on a sand bar. Thistle had scratched his face and this pose made him appear as if he was hiding it in a humorous way.”

Camera information: Canon EOS-1Ds; EF 500mm ƒ/4 lens; 1/500 sec at ƒ/4; ISO 100; Gitzo G1325 tripod; RRS BH-55 head; Wimberley Sidekick. Enrique Aguirre / Nature’s Best Photography
Surfer, Bogue Banks, North Carolina, USA

Photographer Comment: “Local surfers often gather at Bogue Banks Pier to catch the waves, but it was late in the day and almost everyone was gone. The sun was low and the reflections on the water as the sun broke through the late afternoon clouds caught my eye. As I set up for a shot, the last, solitary surfer was exiting the water and I quickly fired a few frames trying to capture the serenity of the moment.”

Camera information: Nikon D300; 10.5mm ƒ/2.8 fish-eye lens; 1/250 sec at ƒ/4; ISO 200; hand-held. Karen Doody / Nature’s Best Photography
Flying Fish, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Photographer Comment: “My vessel’s floodlights attract flying fish, which are typically seen gliding over the ocean at high speeds. While on a solo night-snorkel in open ocean, I was surprised to find this juvenile a few feet below the water’s surface, floating motionless with its ‘wings’ cocked.”

Camera information: Nikon D90; 105mm; 1/200 sec at ƒ/18; ISO 200; Nauticam D90 housing; Inon Z240s strobes (2). Keri Wilk / Nature’s Best Photography
Tern and Sea Turtle, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Photographer Comment: “While I was out on a whale-watching trip, I saw what seemed to be a tern resting on a log. I slowly approached and realized the bird was actually resting on the back of a loggerhead sea turtle just under the surface of the water. I caught this picture as the turtle started to move and just before the tern flew away.”

Camera information: Canon EOS 20D; 70-200mm L lens; 1/640 sec at ƒ/5; ISO 100; hand-held. Nature’s Best Photography
Thorny Seahorses, Red Sea, Eilat, Israel

Photographer Comment: “This pair of seahorses was checking each other out before the female transferred her eggs to the male for him to fertilize and safeguard until giving birth. I was so pleased to witness the rare moment within the coral reef and felt very lucky to be able to take this photograph.”

Camera information: Nikon D2X; 60mm lens; 1/100 sec at ƒ/25; ISO 100; Seacam Nikon D2 housing; Nikonos SB105 strobes (2). Noam Kortler / Nature’s Best Photography
Dwarf Minke Whale, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Photographer Comment: The Story: “Moments after its eyes emerged from the water for a ‘spy hop,’ this whale slowly descended in my direction. I was able to control my movement even though it was rough on the surface. The whale came within six feet of me before it turned away and dived down again.”

Camera information: Nikon D200; Tokina 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 lens; 1/400 sec at ƒ/7.1; ISO 200; Aquatica housing. Steffen Binke / Nature’s Best Photography
Parrotfish, Kuredu House Reef, Maldives

Photographer Comment: “While scuba diving at night near Kuredu Island in the Maldives, I encountered this magnificent parrotfish resting among the coral reef. I took only a couple of shots, as I did not want to disturb the fish—nor did I want to draw the attention of any nearby predators.”

Camera information: Canon 20D; 60mm macro lens; 1/100 sec ƒ/16; ISO 100; Ikelite underwater housing; single DS125 substrobe set to TTL. Michael Thomas Gallagher / Nature’s Best Photography
Adélie Penguins, Paulet Island, Antarctica

Photographer Comment: “Adélie penguins are often seen on icebergs in the Southern Ocean. As we motored around Paulet Island in a Zodiac, two curious penguins waddled across an iceberg to get a closer look at us. It was a memorable encounter.”

Camera information: Canon 5D Mark II; 24-105mm ƒ/4 lens at 24mm; 1/320 sec at ƒ/10; ISO 160; hand-held. Phillip Colla / Nature’s Best Photography
Kilauea Volcano, Kalapana, Hawaii, USA

Photographer Comment: “As we hiked out under the moonlight over the smoldering, crunchy lava, a mate of mine informed me of the story of Pele, the Goddess of Fire in Hawaiian folklore. I can visualize her profile in the upper left of this image as if she is blowing or whispering into the ocean, causing the steam to part on the surface of the water below.”

Camera information: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III; 50mm lens; 2 sec at ƒ/11; ISO 50; Gitzo G1549 tripod; Really Right Stuff ballhead. Peter Lik / Nature’s Best Photography
Red Crab Migration, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean

Photographer Comment: “As many as 100 to 120 million crabs carpet the island in red as they make their way from the rainforest to the coast to mate, marking the largest land migration of any animal on Earth. To take eye-level images involved three weeks of lying on my stomach while wearing knee pads and elbow protectors.”

Camera information: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II; 17-40mm ƒ/4 L lens; 1/250 sec at ƒ/10; ISO 400; Canon Speedlite 580 EX; Gitzo tripod. Stephen Belcher / Nature’s Best Photography
Icebergs at Notre Dame Bay Near Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Labrador, Canada

Photographer Comment: “Every spring, hundreds of icebergs drift from the Greenland ice cap south past Newfoundland. On this evening, despite high seas and heavy cloud cover, I took a chance and hired a fisherman to take me to a group of icebergs just offshore. The setting sun filtered through for a moment, illuminating the dramatic backdrop of clouds. The bird perched atop the iceberg was an added bonus.”

Camera information: Canon EOS 5D; 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 L lens; 1/640 sec at f/4; ISO 200; Tiffen warm polarizer; hand-held. John Sylvester / Nature’s Best Photography