This whale shark recently won Bob Soames the Photosub Digital Image 2009 prize
IT WAS MY SECOND DIVE OUT OF TOFO on the Mozambique Indian Ocean coast, with a group of fellow-photographers from the UK. It followed several days' diving in South Africa's cool winter seas, and I was finding the warmth of the more northerly waters most welcome. We had arrived at Tofo the day before, in time for lunch and an afternoon dive. It had been a long drive up from South Africa, with an overnight stop outside Maputo, but seeing something of the country and its people had already made the journey more than worthwhile. We made the customary beach launch through the surf, and were planing our way to the first dive of the day, a site called Manta. The chance of snorkelling with a whale shark on route was always a possibility, we had been told, but I wasn't holding my breath. In 27 years of diving, I had not yet seen one. But our guides spotted something, and our luck was in. The RIB slowed and, with unsurprising speed, divers and their respective cameras and snorkel kit came together and entered the water. I had a Nikon D200 in a Subal housing and 10-17mm zoom lens - ideal. Two flashguns were attached, but I wouldn't be using these. It took a couple of attempts to drop into the water ahead of the shark before I had my best encounter. I dived to 5m or so to photograph it head-on, but couldn't stay long enough to get as close as I wanted. Cursing my rotundity and lack of fitness, I returned to the surface to catch my breath, and then I dived again. And as it passed beneath me, I took this shot with the snorkeller, the whale shark continuing, unphased and effortlessly, on its way. Five minutes later, we were making our way to Manta again.
Click on any thumbnail photo to enlarge it and use the slideshow