Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dance with a Tiger

Tiger Shark and Felix - Photo by Manuel Lazcano

Manuel Lazcano caught a great sequence: a Tiger shark dancing with me.  Actually, I think she was interested in my camera - this was not the only instance of a tiger shark coming at my video camera.  I had never seen a tiger shark come vertically up the way she did.  

Of course this was not an aggressive behavior or a quick motion.  She came up very slow and by gently hold out my camera I was able to move her to the side.

You can see the whole series here: OceanicDreams Flickr

On a separate day, a different and much larger shark decided to take my camera at the surface, tape was rolling - I will post the video later this week.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Vote from You = $1 Million for Sharks

While Haiti should definitely be a priority at the could help another cause that just requires you to vote on Facebook.  

Georgienne Bradley from the Imaging Foundation sent me the following information:

"Shark Finning is a brutal practice that persists practically unchecked throughout the world's oceans. Cocos Island - a UNESCO World Heritage site - is ground zero for shark finning. We need to stop this practice there now and educate future generations. 

As you know I am trying to stop shark finning and protect Cocos Island. please help me with this daunting yet possible cause. Vote with me, and get the message and vote out to your circle of friends. Instructions are below.

Please email me at if you have any ideas on how we can best get this critical vote out or want to get seriously involved in this cause.

We are currently positioned to win a $1,000,000 grant in the Chase Community Giving Facebook contest. The Imaging Foundation has a strong history of shark advocacy and education.

If you are a Facebook member, please consider casting a simple vote for the Imaging Foundation-Sea Save before Jan 22th.

Here’s how to vote:

Step One: Log into your Facebook account and paste this link into your web browser:

Step Two: Become a fan of “Chase Community Giving.” (You can remove them once you’ve finished voting.)

Step Three: You will be asked, “Vote for Charity?” Make sure the charity Imaging Foundation and click “Yes”

Once you vote, your Facebook picture will appear on the page, showing your commitment to protecting sharks. 

Thank you for your support!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blog List Activate

As I look at our blog list (mostly dealing with sharks, ocean, underwater photography, conservation, etc.), it is disappointing to see so little of them writing about Haiti and how their readers may help.

A simple sentence and link is sufficient and will take less than 5 mins to post.

Another good resource to help Haiti: - you can even donate via text messaging.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Help Haiti

At this point I am sure everyone is aware of the catastrophe that happened in Haiti.  By way of this post I ask you to please donate - very easy, go to: 

I just donated and it took less than 30 secs - don't drink, smoke, go to the movies, eat out, etc - instead give to a cause.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Passionate People Come Together

I just got back from the First South Florida Conservation Party - three words that best describe the event: Passion, Unity, and Motivation.

  • Passion: The event was attended by scientists, non-profit organizations, videographers, photographers, and by countless individuals that all share a common interest in protecting sharks.  Various people presented ongoing and upcoming campaigns, new short films, exciting new research methodologies that will bring the general public closer to the field (virtually), songs, and public announcements.
  • Unity: Three organizations organized the event: Shark Savers, Oceanic Defense, and Shark Safe Network.  The overall message was that together as one voice things can get accomplished - as most evident in the efforts to protect Lemon sharks in Florida state water.  One speaker mentioned: "A lot of egos in this room - let's leave those aside"
  • Motivation: I think (at least I hope) that people left the event feeling motivated for 2010.  A lot has been accomplished and a lot of work is still to be done.  It was a real pleasure to hear Samuel Gruber say that he was overwhelmed with the Lemon shark effort and that he wants to get back into a conservation role.
Other observations:
  • Niel Hammerschlag is now a professor - congrats! He is teaching two courses at University of Miami.  He also mentioned to me that they will soon be launching a new program that will allow the general public to follow tagged sharks with Google Earth in (delayed) real time...looking forward to more information on this!
  • Finally got to meet Joe Romeiro from 333 Productions - unfortunately we did not get a lot of time to speak.  Joe presented Lateral Line - a short film on three pelagic sharks: Makos, Blues, and Whites.  Great cinematography - Great short film.
  • Shark Savers and Wild Aid have an excellent campaign currently running in China: Say 'No' to Shark Fin Soup
  • Shark Diver Magazine donated ad space to the Guy Harvey Foundation
  • Always good to see old and new friends:
  • Heard the two best shark songs ever
See all photos here

Black and white is just more artistic and dramatic...

...even on film.  Patric Douglas over at Shark Diver just sent an email with the subject line: "As black and white fans" with a link to a video put together by Richard Theiss - from RTSea Productions.  And not just as fans of black and white, but of good work - this video really captures the elegance of sharks (title of the video).  

The video is below - but I would recommend watching it directly on Youtube as you can enjoy the video in a much larger format.

Richard - excellent work, enjoy it very much - reminded me a little bit of the first scenes from David Ulloa's video.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Dwelling on underwater photography, here is a master shot:

Freediver photographing a large and most graceful Galeocerdo Cuvier (Aliwal Shoal / South Africa) Click on image to enlarge

The author: A bloody amateur who has never taken underwater pics before. It is one of the best, if not THE best, man / shark photograph I have ever seen.

I won't say more because of my close relationship with the photographer - he is Felix, my one and only baby boy!! (Oh, I know what he will tell me: "Dad, will you pleeeeeeze take that embarrassing remark off the blog?"...... No, I won't, OK? :-)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New shark photos - you could also say: More of the same.

Lyn Nelson (she was my dive buddy back in 1974 - we still dive together; would you believe it??)

I am sure I have stated it before in this blogspot: I only photograph sharks, obsessively, and I can't get enough of it.

You, dear reader, have the choice of either clicking here or deleting this blog. Either way - best wishes to you!

Da Wolf

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fiona Ayerst and Amanda Cotton: Two world-class underwater photographers.

Photo: Fiona Ayerst

The better an image, the less it needs to be explained....which is how I would describe Fiona Ayerst's photography.

Click here to enjoy Fiona's remarkable work.

Photo: Amanda Cotton

While Amanda Cotton is a highly talented and rigorously trained photographer, Fiona, a very successful ex-lawyer, became a self-taught photographer when she realized that an office job, no matter how demanding and rewarding financially, wasn't her thing in the long run.

Now, don't think that as an autodidact Fiona is less professional than Amanda - she is not!!

When I met Fiona for the first time in South Africa some two years ago, I could not believe how much photographic stuff she brought along for just ONE day of diving with the tiger sharks of Aliwal Shoal, and told her so. She, in turn, looked at my "equipment", a good old Nikonos V, with what I first thought was disdain but then she explained to me that although she began her new career with a Nikonos V she had to go digital as a pro.

Both Fiona and Amanda are award-winning photographers. I expect them to become two of the world's ten best underwater photographers in the not too distant future.

What is truly amazing, yet not surprising to me, is that both ladies developed into ardent shark conservationists as they began "shooting" sharks.

Since we already have so many "Sharkmen", I would love to see more "Sharkladies" that are cut of the same cloth as Amanda and Fiona.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The "Year of the Shark" initiative and its future.

Paul Spielvogel shot this captivating image of a lemon shark and a freediving sea wolf at Tiger Beach: It says what the "Year of the Shark" is all about - LET SHARKS LIVE!!!

Click on image to enlarge

Here is what my friend Mark Harding, a committed shark and manta conservationist, wrote to the Let Sharks Live group today:


As part of our initiative to take the Year of the Shark on into the future, and to help our message grow, we had discussed the way that our web presence should progress, and the majority of opinion settled on a blog style presence.

I managed to find some time over the holiday period to register the Let Sharks Live movement as now owning a blog site hosted by worldpress. You can find it here:


Please also read what I posted about Mark almost two years ago.

Mark has a personal blogspot full of interesting stuff as well.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The last twelve months weren't good for me.

My dear friend Guy B. Meeker died in December 2008. His body was not strong enough to withstand the merciless grip of an aggressive cancer.

In May 2009, my mother Ana Catharina Barber passed away, she was 95 years old. Even though it was not a 'tragic' death, considering her age, I miss her now that she is not around anymore. She was enviably lucid until she suffered the devastating effects from a stroke that completely paralyzed her two weeks before she was released from life.

"Mami", aka "AC" when she was 93
Photo taken in 2006

My mother wanted to be buried in Cochabamba where she spent wonderful years of her life. We, her surviving children, complied with her request, and interred her remains next to her mother, Marie-Louise Barber.

If I were requested to say what my mother's most remarkable personality traits were, three characteristics would come to my mind imm
ediately: Discipline, modesty, and independence.

Ana Catharina Barber (1913 - 2009)
Photo taken in 1969

My youngest sister Erica, aged 63, followed my mother only three weeks later. She died of cancer in June 2009, in Munich, where she has lived most of her adult life.

Erica Leander (1945 - 2009)
Photo taken in 1993

Erica, 20 years old
Photo taken in 1965

Erica when she was 15
Photo taken in 1960

Renate, Wolfgang, Erica
Photo taken in 1950

While Erica and I had a conflict-laden relationship, we had so much more in common than one would expect from siblings. To say that I 'miss' Erica would be an inadequate word to express the void I feel after her death.

Although I am a confirmed atheist, and, thus, do not believe in an after-life, I would now like to be comforted by the thought that one day my beloved sister and I will be able to find the reconciliation we both so much longed for during the often tempestuous times of our lives. But since I do not foresee a good reason to give up my agnostic conviction, I have to accept the harsh reality that we will not meet again. I will, therefore, keep the dialogue with Erica alive until I die.

Hers was a tormented earthly passage. And the more difficult it became for her to find the peace to live the present with what could be described as a 'normal' degree of happiness and a reasonable sense of worth, Erica dug deeper into the roots of our Jewish ancestry to look for the simple solace of belonging.

I recently heard an accurate metaphor for the search of one's identity - not an uncommon phenomenon in our times of crumbling social and famili
al structures. "Searching for an identity is like carrying a heavy back-pack without knowing what its content is."

Had Erica known that my sister Renate and I would put her to rest next to our grand-mother Pauline Margarethe Leander in the Berlin Weissensee Cemetery, the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, she would have just smiled the contagious smile that so much reminded me of the way our father smiled...

Click on images to enlarge

PS: On December 26, 2009, I received a mail from my young friend Matt Burnes informing me that his mother, Jean Booth-Rex, passed away unexpectedly. I have known Jean since 1968, when we fell in love with each other. We both lived in Puerto Rico back then. Our love affair didn't last but our friendship did and became perfectly natural over the years. I spoke to Jean on the phone as recently as six weeks ago when Matt joined me to dive with the tigers of Tiger Beach. Jean was healthy and, as always, full of energy and in good spirits. I still cannot imagine her not being with us anymore.

Matt's father, Glen Burnes, died only a few months earlier.

Matt - you lost your parents. They are irreplaceable - but you might find some consolation knowing that you have an old fatherly friend...