Sunday, February 28, 2010

Help Chile

I have been out of the country for a while with little internet access - would have posted this earlier.  As I am sure everyone is aware of the earthquake that has hit Chile; there are many ways to help the country and the people.  The best resource that I have come across is the Support Disaster Relief on Google.

Here you will find ways to donate, look for people, etc.  This comes at a time when many are still thinking about the catastrophe in Haiti - while Chile is not in the same state, and  will react faster and more efficiently than any other developing country - they will still need help in any form.

Do not let numbers of victims fool you and minimize the event in Chile...please help.

I have many good friends there - none are missing to my knowledge - put as I scan my Twitter feed, I still see many people asking about their loved ones.

GodSpeed Chile!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thomas Peschak continued

See Thomas Peschak's complete blog post on shark conservation as well as his beautiful images that tell a compelling story...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A quote from my previous blog on Thomas Peschak.

I photograph sharks not just because I 'like' doing it; I photograph sharks because I love and admire them as one of the most ancient creatures of our planet.

With the help of the internet I try to make my images available as widely as possible hoping that they will reach those who are not aware of the existential threat sharks are facing in our fateful times.

The very purpose of this blogspot, created by Felix, is, indeed, to show that sharks are not dangerous but that they are endangered and, thus, need to be prot
ected from humans.

"Not dangerous but endangered."
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Click on image to enlarge

To see that there are so many others who for one reason or another feel that strong, almost visceral urge to preserve the animals we shark conservationists love gives me great satisfaction and much encouragement to go on. I guess that we are all cut from the same cloth.

Here is what Thomas sees as the quintessence of his mission as a professional conservationist photographer; it is, basically, what drives me in my quest to spread the message of shark conservation, or in Thomas' words, "....create images of sharks that will inspire people to go out of their way to help protect and save them from extinction."

Thomas Peschak: "The legendary conservationist George Schaller wrote: ‘Pen and Camera are weapons against oblivion, they can create awareness for that which may soon be lost forever’. (...........) I spend an average 8 months a year on assignment documenting shark conservation projects all over the world. Schaller’s words are my mantra and especially in times when all hope seems lost they inspire me never to give up.

Photographs are one of the most
powerful weapons in the marine conservation arsenal and it has become my life’s work to create images of sharks that will inspire people to go out of their way to help protect and save them from extinction."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thomas Peschak: Marine biologist, author, photographer, conservationist.

Thomas Peschak "at work" - it is not risky, but it ain't for the faint-hearted.
Photos: Wolfgang Leander (Aliwal Shoal, 2007)
Click on images to enlarge

In his field, wildlife and shark conservation photography, Thomas is, in my and many others' opinion, one of the best - world-wide.

I will not say more than that about him. Instead, I invite you to read one of Thomas' most recent blogs. That will tell you, in his own eloquent words, what kind of a guy this young South African is:

SHARK: Saving the most important fish in the sea

Welcome to the new IMPACT online exhibition, a project exploring the internet as a venue for insightful photographic work. In an effort to remind viewers of the important role photographers play around the world, we invited an array of imagemakers to share galleries on their blogs (like this one) that comprise 12 images representing an experience when they had an impact on or were impacted.

By clicking on
the links below the IMPACT logo, you can move through the exhibition, viewing other galleries by different photographers. You can also click the IMPACT logo to be taken to a post on the liveBooks RESOLVE Blog where you can see an index of all participating photographers. We hope that by linking different photographic visions of our first topic, “Outside Looking In,” we can provide a multifaceted view of the topic as well as the IMPACT individuals can have on the world around us.

An estimated 73 million sharks are killed every year around the world and as a result 50 species are listed as vulnerable or in danger of extinction. Vast fishing fleets comb our oceans catching sharks primarily for their fins, a sought after commodity used in shark fin soup. One of the greatest challenges in marine conservation today is to instill in people a sense of wonder in the ocean that will not only awaken a feeling of ownership but also foster responsibility towards its inhabitants, especially sharks.

The legendary conservationist George Schaller wrote: ‘Pen and Camera
are weapons against oblivion, they can create awareness for that which may soon be lost forever’. As Chief Photographer of the Save our Seas Foundation I spend an average 8 months a year on assignment documenting shark conservation projects all over the world. Schaller’s words are my mantra and especially in times when all hope seems lost they inspire me never to give up. Photographs are one of the most powerful weapons in the marine conservation arsenal and it has become my life’s work to create images of sharks that will inspire people to go out of their way to help protect and save them from extinction.

For me the biggest reward comes when my photographs achieve real world marine conservation successes. Over the years I have had the immense privilege to have my images play a role in the proclamation of marine reserves and achieve changes in fisheries legislation. However the greatest joy and satisfaction comes in the form of the e-mails I receive from people whose lives were touched by my photographs and in turn created their own conservation projects in form of grass roots activities, petition sites or facebook cause groups.

The Senegalese philosopher Baba Dioum said ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.’ Every person who gains an understanding of and love for sharks will bring us one step closer to putting a permanent end to the destructive activities of the shark nets, long-liners and trawlers that are collectively killing millions of sharks and ultimately destroying two thirds of our planet in the process. The ocean is our planet’s switch of life and in more ways then we care to acknowledge, we too, just like sharks depend on a healthy marine realm for our own survival.

Thomas P. Peschak
Chief Photographer
Save our Seas Foundation

Visit Thomas' website.

Justify Full

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Florida Lemon Sharks are Protected

Lemon Sharks - Photo by Wolf Leander

Just received an email from Doc Gruber with the following information on the protection of Lemon Sharks in Florida.  Congratulations to all those involved - great people and highly dedicated to this cause made it happen - you know who you are.

For immediate release: February 18, 2010
Contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554

FWC acts to protect lemon sharks

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule Thursday to
prohibit all recreational and commercial harvest of lemon sharks from Florida waters. The FWC took this action to protect lemon sharks, because they have a high potential to be overharvested.

Lemon sharks are often found near shore in shallow water, especially in Southeast Florida, where they aggregate in large numbers each year. This makes them easy to locate and raises the potential for large numbers of lemon sharks to be removed from the population with minimal effort by fishermen.

Lemon sharks also are susceptible to overharvest because of their life history characteristics. They are slow-growing, reaching sexual maturity at 12-15 years of age, and have a low reproductive potential, producing 6 to 18 pups per litter every second or third year.  Juvenile lemon sharks experience a mortality of 40-60 percent.

Recently, some preliminary data from an ongoing tagging study found that at least 7.5 percent of tagged adult lemon sharks from a Southeast Florida aggregation succumbed to fishing mortality in one season.  At that rate, the entire lemon shark aggregation could be harvested in a few years.

In addition, recent regulatory actions for other shark species might put more fishing pressure on lemon sharks in Florida waters, where 90 percent of known lemon shark aggregations occur. The harvest of lemon sharks will still be allowed in offshore federal waters adjacent to state waters.

Healthy lemon shark populations are especially important to Florida’s dive charter industry which provides ecotourism trips to see lemon shark aggregations in the winter months.

The FWC’s lemon shark rule takes effect on March 23.  More information about recent shark-management actions
<>  is available online at, click on “Fishing – Saltwater.” 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Miami Secrets...

Manny, Manuel, and Niberto

Ask most people and they will tell you that Miami is fished out...Ask Manuel M. and be ready to find animals in abundance; from stone crabs to lobsters to Cubera Snappers.  I cannot divulge any location - that is part of the deal with Manuel - I will say that they are in places you would least expect them to be.

Manuel was born and raised in Miami - an avid and great freediver, the ocean has been his playground since he was a small boy, learning from his father (the two still go out together).  

Growing up with friends that share the same excitement (unless the water is too cold - no reason to mention names) they have formed a tight bond and work well together.  Manny C has long dived with Manuel and has been around for some of the larger landings. 

Cubera Snapper

Having been out with them quite often I can also appreciate their respect for the, and only catch what can be eaten the same night.  Happens to be that Manuel is also one of those really "lucky" people - the right fish just seem to be attracted to him.  

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for the right one, maybe on a trip to the Bahamas...

Another Spielvogel Photograph.

Paul sent me this image today. It is so good that I can't resist posting it.

As the photograph is minimalistic, so is my comment on it: This great shot eloquently tells the viewers what my relationship with sharks is all about.

Shark whispering - pretty much like horse whispering; all you need to know is the language sharks and horses understand.
Copyright: Paul Spielvogel
Click on image to enlarge

Thank you, Paul!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Best beach in the world? Tiger Beach!!

My friend Paul Spielvogel, aka Paul Playbird, another multi-talent, not unlike Fiona Ayerst, sent me these photographs today:

Tiger and lemon girls feeling comfortable next to a submarine wolf.

"I need you girls to get a bit closer."

Click on images to enlarge

Paul is a passionate underwater photographer and a successful lawyer with a doctorate degree - I told him that in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland he would be addressed to as "Herr Doktor Schpielfogel", in court as well as in his super market or laundry shop, and also underwater.... :-)

Herr Doktor Schpielfogel knows that happiness to me means playing at the best beach in the world. So, with these images he made my day, actually my night as it is 2:00 a.m. right now!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Save the Bahamian Garden of Eden for Sharks

Below is a link to a petition (requires 5,000 signatures) to the banning of fishing for sharks in the Bahamas.  Sure - many wonder do petitions have any effect - I myself am not sure...however, I still sign them.  It requires little effort and you can easily pass it to your friends.

So, having said that please go ahead and sign it:


Blogs, friends, and the internet.

I would like to show you that Mark Harding is not only an excellent videographer, a dedicated shark friend and manta conservationist, a professional still photographer, but also, as you will see, a talented blogger.

Mark Harding loves these gentle giants - and is committed to their protection.
Photo: Wolfgang Leander (Galapagos, 1999)
Click on image to enlarge

How did I meet my good pal Mark? Simple - over the

That leads me to think that some of my very best new friends were internet acquanintances that evolved into solidly established cyber-friendships before I met them in person. Just to name a few: Jean-Francois Avenier ("Jifa"), Marcelo Mammana, Mike Neumann.

Beyond that, what and where would I, and countless others all over the globe, be without the blessings of the internet?

That story which has yet to be written, has changed, and is still changing, our civilization in such a profound way that it could only be compared, perhaps inadequately, to man's 'discovery', and use, of fire.

I am still unable to grasp the internet's astounding dimension and importance....

Anyway, as a retiree I am glad that it exists otherwise I would have to collect stamps or, worse, get even more on my wife's nerves. :-)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Among the best...

Wolfgang Leander and Tiger Shark  
Photo by Felix Leander

My dad would never write what I am posting, in fact he will probably give me some lip for it...but I think it merits a mention and shout out.  

Last year, "Photographer" (Ukrainian Edition) featured the world's top U/W photographers and their photos...and among the Doubilets, Nachoums, and Perrines there was a Leander. 

I must say that it is a great list to be part of....and the fact that my father takes all his photos while freediving and using a Nikonos V (with no flash) - and does it all as a hobby being almost 70 years old, and having survived three cancers makes this even more remarkable...

Yes, I said it, I am impressed by my old man.  In an age of digital photography where a diver can shoot hundreds of photos in a few minutes (there better be a good shot among them) - this is a feat.

I will say that I think the magazine missed a photographer, who in my opinion is the best: Fred Buyle. Art is subjective, and as the old Romans already knew: De gustibus non est disputandum  (= "In matters of taste there is no dispute").

My dad considers David Doubilet to be the best. He calls Doubilet The Underwater Henri Cartier-Bresson - as far as he is concerned, there is no higher mark of distinction than being likened to that French photography legend.

Anyway, here is a link to the post on WetPixel.

Congrats old man!

Effective Shark Protection.

Honduras has now joined the Maldives and Palau in setting an example how to protect their shark populations: These countries have decided to ban all shark fishing. Bravo!

The Save-Our-Seas Foundation people have informed their readers about the Honduran initiative; as we see no need to re-write what they have put on record, click here to be linked to their blog.

As old Bahamas fans - I lived in Nassau between 1974 and 1980; Felix was born there in 1976 - we would love to see the Bahamas following suit.

A ray of hope for the sharks in the Bahamas?

Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click on image to enlarge

Just imagine the huge Bahamian archipelago with its 700 islands becoming a "legal" shark sanctuary!

Once aware of it, the sharks in the Bahamas would not migrate anymore, and stay "home" instead. Ask our "Doc" (Dr. Samuel Gruber); he will confirm that sharks are quite clever and fast learners.... :-)

Effective shark protection: Honduras, the Maldives, and Palau have shown the world that it can be done - with substantial benefits to their tourism industries
AND the health of their sharks!