Wells Belize '96 Diving: Big Fish!

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Nurse Shark incoming!We saw the most amazing big fish on our last dive of the trip, just Chris and me with Prescott. We met two nurse sharks resting on the bottom. The first was 8-10' long and surrounded by coral formations. I lay down on the sand about 3' in front of another 6-8' shark, and took a head-on flash portrait at point-blank range. The shark rose up immediately and accelerated away, as shown here. Close encounters of the exhilarating kind!

Two Spotted Rays flying in formationMy most magical moment was when I kept pace with two spotted rays flying in formation at about 65' depth. Our dive profile limited me to 50' that day, so I followed them about 15' above as they glided gracefully through a valley, over the next hill, and circled around. I felt at one with them as I focused on matching their every move, and the technology of scuba diving faded away. They were kind enough to let me keep up for many minutes.

Big ray resting in sandI learned a lot about digital photo processing while working with the picture of two rays - in the original it was almost uniformly blue since it was deep and out of flash range, and the rays were hard to spot. Edge enhancement really brought out the body and spots of the rays, and sharpening and increasing the contrast also improved the picture. At the time the rays were vividly obvious because of their movement. I think bright sunlight is casting some shadows under the rays here even at 65' depth.

We came across this ray just resting peaceably in the sand. It was about 5' across from wing tip to wing tip, and tolerated me taking a second flash picture head on like a B2 bomber. We saw several other rays, but this was the only one that let us get this close.

Baracuda nearbyWe saw several Baracudas during our dives - they never came too close, and this 5' Baracuda floated a bit out of flash range with the coral wall behind. Another Baracuda suddenly appeared in the middle of a school of Yellow Tails, and Chris saw it make a Yellow Tail disappear, in one split second gulp!

Baracuda exits stage left, with Chris in pursuit!
Here Chris is chasing another Baracuda exiting stage left - Chris kept up for a second or two!

Contact robert@wellscs.com | Updated July 27, 1997
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