One of the most expressive eyes in the animal kingdom zeros in for a closer look. I have photographed marine mammals for almost 20 years but never before have I experience an encounter this close. Can you guess what ocean animal this is just by looking at its eyeball? Send me you answers in the comments below. I will post the identity of the animal in 24 hours. Shot #onassignment for @natgeo magazine. ANSWER: Wow, we got more than 1000 guesses to try and identify the mystery animal just by its eye. A large number of you knew it was some sort of whale in fact more than 170 people thought it was a humpback. Fantastic to see that everyone here is so into marine wildlife. Humpback was a very good guess, but it was in fact a gray whale that I photographed in San Ignacio lagoon in Baja California, Mexico. Some of the more outlandish and interesting I.D's included a dairy cow and a rhinoceros
My field assistant Steve Benjamin (@animal_ocean) dives on a single breath to 70 foot as a giant school of jacks swirls in the water above. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico. Until September 16th this and many others iconic @natgeo photographs are on sale as small signed prints. See link below my profile.
Happy International Whale Shark Day !!! A whale shark travels through the seas off La Paz #Mexico. Whale shark numbers normally peak in this part of the Sea of Cortez when the ocean is green, murky and rough. In 2015 however unusual climatic and oceanographic conditions resulted in calm and clear water, making this unusual picture possible. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for the September 2017 story Ocean Stewards written by @erikvance In collaboration with the Mexican conservation NGOs @maresmexicanos and @whalesharkmexico Please let me know in the comments how many of you have seen whale sharks and where?
A school of Clarion angelfish remove parasites, dead skin and mucous from a oceanic manta ray. This species of "Cleaner fish" is endemic to the #Revillagigedo archipelago marine protected area, 240 miles south of Baja California. A critical initiative to expand this marine reserve, to further benefit large marine species like manta rays that roam vast distances is currently underway. Shot on assignment for @NatGeo magazine for the September 2017 story Ocean Stewards focused on marine conservation successes. Please #follow @mantatrust and @maresmexicanos to learn more about manta rays in Mexico's western seas, where conservation initiatives are bearing fruit. #mexico #baja #manta #diving #conservation
Shot on assignment for @natgeo Marine biologist @octavioaburto explores the shallows around Isla Candelabra in Mexico's Gulf of California as giant Cardon cacti loom on the ridges above. Octavio has worked tirelessly for almost two decades to help protect Mexico's ocean realm. Please #follow @octavioaburto on Instagram. He is also a great photographer and talented storyteller!
A white shark cruises the clear blue waters off Mexico's Guadalupe island while a Western gull hovers above. The extensive scarring on the flank is the result of either mating (the male shark hangs onto the female with his teeth) or fighting over prey. Unpublished photograph from my Sep 2017 @natgeo magazine story Oceans Stewards about #oceanoptimism in #mexico Written by @erikvance Please #follow @maresmexicanos and @octavioaburto to dive deeper into the marine conservation successes of Mexico.
A gray whale curiously approaches our boat as my partner Sunnye (@swimcyclerundog) dangles her hands in the water. San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California is one of the few places in the world where whales actually seek out contact with people. A cultural trait passed down from mother to calf for more than 40 years. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for the September 2017 story Ocean Stewards @erikvance #mexico. #Baja #love #nature #ocean #whale @thephotosociety @natgeocreative @maresmexicanos
The waters around the northern Galápagos Islands of Wolf and Darwin are one of few places in the world where mature adult whale sharks make regular seasonal appearances. This 6-8 foot silky shark is dwarfed by a giant 30 + foot female. Photographing theses giant #sharks is difficult, the currents are ripping and they swim incredibly fast and show little curiosity for people. Shot on assignment @natgeo magazine for a story on climate change and the Galápagos Islands in the June 2017 issue. In collaboration with @darwinfound @saveourseasfoundation #paulmangellfoundation and #galapagosnationalpark
A bottlenose dolphin hangs upside down effortlessly as the current rages around the underwater volcanic pinnacle known as "El boiler". Situated off San Benedicto island, it lies in the heart of the #Revillagigedo archipelago marine protected area, 240 miles south of Baja California, Mexico. A critical initiative to expand this marine reserve, to further benefit large marine species that roam vast distances is currently underway. Shot on assignment for @ NatGeo magazine for the forthcoming September 2017 story focused on marine conservation successes in Mexico. Please #follow @maresmexicanos to learn more about Mexico's western seas, where conservation initiatives are bearing fruit. #mexico #baja #dolphin #diving #conservation
Marine scientists from the @darwinfound and @saveourseasfoundation explore a underwater cave at Wolf island, one of the most northerly outposts of the Galápagos Islands. Sea turtles, sea lions and even hammerhead sharks have been encountered inside. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine @pelayosalinas #galapagosnationalpark #adventure #explore #ocean #galapagos50 #galapagos
After two hours of grazing on algae in the cold waters of the western Galápagos, this marine iguana is dangerously close to becoming too cold to fight waves and currents. The animal needs to reach the shore quickly so it can reheat its body using the sun's warmth radiating from the black lava rock. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine in collaboration with #galapagosnationalpark and @darwinfound @pelayosalinas @lindbladexp #picoftheday #instagood #godzilla #iguana #galapagos #galapagos50
Galápagos cormorants lost the ability to fly in favor of being more streamlined underwater hunters. Now faster and more agile in the pursuit of fish, their remnant stubby wings are only useful as flippers. Unfortunately these unique birds can be severely impacted by climate change. As ocean waters warm their fish prey migrates away from the islands in search of colder water, out of reach of these flightless cormorants. Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for a story on Climate Change and the Galápagos Islands. In collaboration with @darwinfound #galapagosnationalpark @fonassociation @pelayosalinas #paulmangellfoundation @natgeocreative