One of the best trips of my life began when my wife Kimber and I were invited to help on our friends’ documentary. Ellen Cuylaerts and Michael Maes are working on a shark conservation documentary with various species of sharks, and first on the list were oceanic whitetip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus).
OWT are widespread throughout the warm deep ocean waters. They spend most of their life cruising vast areas of open ocean, and are rarely seen over areas with a shallow bottom. Their numbers have declined greatly in the last decade due, in large part, to demand for their large rounded fins.
One of the best places to find longimanus is a couple of hours off the coast of Cat Island, Bahamas. Epic Diving’s Vinny and Debra Canabal have spent years studying and learning their locations and behaviors in the beautiful, impossibly blue waters in the area.
All of our encounters were on snorkel, where the sharks are more active and curious. We had the amazing luck to witness a few of the OWT, along with a pair of silky sharks, over both a mid-ocean seamount and a sandy shallow bottom that resembled a moonscape.
While the open ocean is seldom completely calm, we were very fortunate to have mostly sunny skies and reasonable winds for the entire trip. When the sun is shining, the clear blue waters provide a fascinating display of sunrays. This creates stunning mottled patterns over the oceanics as they glide around us. Simply amazing.
Ken Kiefer is committed to helping ocean conservation, and specifically to help change the common negative perception of sharks in the media. He hopes that his fresh approach to creating images will help spread interest and change minds. Ken is a self-taught photographer, with a passion for everything underwater.