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Sardine Run 2011

Sardine Run 2011

Sardine Run 2011

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Photographing Blue Sharks!

Mark got the chance to spend the day, 20 nautical miles off Cape Point, coming eye to eye with one of the most beautiful sharks in the ocean, the Blue Shark.

Blue Shark

Getting up even before the crack of dawn for a 6am launch from Hout Bay, definately paid off when, after a three hour bumpy ride to a spot called The Canyon, Mark finally got to photograph a couple of Blue Sharks and a Mako. To see the Blue Shark face to face for the first time in his life, he was amazed at how the shark shimmered in the water, a true blue beauty. One can not imagine that anyone could put a hook through his mouth or slice off his fins for a watery broth called Sharkfin Soup…


The last two weeks of November we packed the 4×4 and headed up to Tofu, Mozambique to join Julie Andersen, one of the Shark Angels and Paul Wildman, her partner and cameraman. We wanted to check out the shark finning situation, but also hoped to photograph some of their mega fauna in the Tofu region. That proved slightly more tricky than we had anticipated….

Manta Mozambique

When we arrived in Tofu, we were greeted by poor water visibility and no mantas or whale sharks for the past three weeks. We decided to give it a couple of days and get our ears to the ground for where there might be shark finning operations working along the coast. Speaking to locals and dive operators, we headed north to Pomene, where word had it that things were active there. Finally arriving in Pomene, a small hidden gem in the middle of nowhere, we saw shark jaws of every kind being sold to tourists in the local market area. We decided to come and base ourselves at Pomene Lodge for the next week, especially after hearing that they had spotted some whale sharks and manta rays the day before. We found out that the shark finning camp had been raided three weeks earlier by the Mozambican government, and that they had moved their camp further north, but not too far away. Well, after 15 years of diving, I finally freedived with my first whale shark…..WOW! What an amazing creature!! We also had a beautiful manta ray encounter and Mark finally got to experience their magic. For me, they are truly the most magical creatures of all. And sadly, as we had dreaded, on the last day of diving we found the shark finners. Mark, Julie and Paul found and dived a longline, with thousands of hooks stretching over kilometers. They used eels as bait and there was a huge remora that was still alive which had been caught by one of the hooks that was pierced right through his eye. Hopelessly struggling to free himself, he was dying a slow death. What else had been caught we could only imagine. Mark photographed and Paul filmed it and they followed the line back later which ran in a loop back to shore and right to the shark finning camp. They were very aggressive towards the boat, thinking that we had cut their line. They are only the small evil doers in this story and word had it that they were being funded and supplied with equipment by the Chinese. So where does this end? And where do we go next? Spreading the word and sending out the message that this has to stop. We, all of us, have a responsibility towards the ocean. So let’s start preserving it.


Our latest photographic trip took us to Madagascar, a wild and magical place, but sometimes almost too fragile when in the hands of the wrong people. We spent three weeks exploring the south and western part, the magnificent Tsingy forest in particular…


Our three week trip to Madagascar took us far southeast to the little town of Fort Dauphin, from where we based ourselves for 10 days.We spent some days surfing and exploring the coastline, which sadly, is mostly fished out and rather barren. Spending a day rowing through the swamp areas and natural waterways, we were shocked to see the lack of bird and fishlife even there. However we photographed what we saw and Sophia spent some time with the locals in the little fishing village of Evatra. Poor hygiene, the lack of fresh produce and no medical clinics close to the village,has had a very negative effect on this community, and left us wondering if these people will ever reap the benefits of tourists to the area. Our next leg of our journey took us back to the capital of Antananarivo, from where we got a small plane to the town of Morondava. We wanted to get to the Grand Tsingy, or Parc National des Tsingy de Bemaraha, and knew the only way was to rent a 4×4 vehicle. We spent three nights at the park, and even slept one night in the Tsingy in the community campsite, which was wonderful! We got woken up in the middle of the night to the frightening sounds of the local dogs fighting with a fusa, who had come to catch one of the chickens in the camp. The Tsingy was breathtaking and far exceeded our expectations and we hope will be protected for generations to come.

Sardine Run 2008

This year the Sardine Run along our Natal coast took us to the town of Port Edward. Heavy rains and severe floods made photographing almost impossible.

Common Dolphins

The first four days of the trip was frustrating to say the least, as the beaches and launch sites were closed due to huge amounts of debris in the water. We spent the next 8 days travelling as far south as Waterfall Bluff, in search of some sardine action and clearer water. Eventually we found some dolphin activity and small pockets of birds, but still no baitballs! On the day that we did find a tiny baitball, or the remains of one, a scramble to get to it by every operator in the vicinity, left us with a bad taste in our mouth and a feeling of “Is this really worth all this fuss?” Well while the guys were fighting over whose baitball it is anyway, I ceased the moment to free dive down and snap a couple of shots while watching the dolphins at work. And realised, that yes, it is definitely worth it, even just to catch a glimpse of the action! In utter amazement I hung under the baitball, watching how the dolphins work together, like synchronized swimmers.

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