Back to blogging, (my life is now sharks).

Good morning world, I’m writing this from a cafe in Cornwall, drinking my fourth or fifth coffee of the day, just outside Falmouth where I lived up until recently.

I’m currently on a break from my new job & home, and am trying to use this time to catch up on all things that I’ve let slide whilst I’ve been working, such as writing, drawing, etc. I now live in South Bimini, the Bahamas, a tiny island only 50 miles from Miami, and very far away from the rest of the Bahamas, and also anything I’ve been used to.

I recently started working at the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, AKA the Sharklab, as their Media Manager, and it’s been a massive learning curve so far. (The reason I’m telling you all this is not to boast, but just to introduce what I’m currently doing, so that the Shark related posts that will inevitably follow, don’t seem too random and out of place.)

Anyway, back to Bimini. The Sharklab is a world renowned field station, now in it’s 25th year. There’s a number of permanent staff, and a rotation of volunteers, and we all live and work in very close quarters within the same building.

We work long hours, we get few days off, have minimal personal space, and we live on an island where there’s only 2 restaurant/bars, one very small store, and an airport. But, we get to work with sharks.
I’ve never been shark obsessed; I make no secret in the fact that I love all kinds of marine life, and could never choose a favourite, but since working at the lab, I love sharks a hell of a lot more. My experience with sharks was minimal before working here, I’d dived with them a few times, and thought they were pretty cool, but in all honesty I didn’t know much about them. Now I’m lucky enough to live surrounded by scientists, conducting numerous research projects on a range of the species we get around Bimini. I’m happy to say I’m learning a lot more biology, and loving being around active science and being involved in projects that ultimately contribute to marine conservation.

My role is varied, and I won’t go into the details of that too much, but a part of it includes generating media content, and documenting the work we do, i.e. a fair amount of photography. And this is what I’ll be focusing on in the coming weeks in this blog, sharing one or two images of a specific species, with a little about the story behind the image(s).

Shark numero uno…

The first shark I encountered in Bimini was a juvenile tiger shark.

I was lucky enough to arrive around the time of our monthly longline set. And before you panic, this isn’t the usual kind of longlining that you may have heard as being awful, this is shallow water, very small scale longlines, that are checked every few hours. You can read more about it on the lab’s website here (http://www.biminisharklab.com/research/researchtechniques).

Tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, are fairly common around here, and as a species worldwide they are listed as near threatened by the IUCN. We encounter juvenile, semi adult, and mature tigers, unlike some of the other species we work with around here.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 11.09.20

That’s my first ever tiger shark image, and definitely not one of my best, but it sets the scene for you. (It’s not always that calm and sunny out there as well!).

DSC_6515-3

This is my favourite juvenile tiger shark image to date, which is in fact a screenshot from a clip, filming the release of this individual after a work-up whilst one of our college field courses were visiting. A work-up varies on details, but involves taking data for each individual shark; measurements, DNA & isotope samples. Also, we tag our sharks with PIT tags, an ID tag like a microchip. They sometimes are implanted with acoustic transmitters, meaning we can pick up their movements on receivers we have around the island. I love the patterns on juvenile tigers, look at those spots on the tail! Seriously beautiful.

Since living in Bimini, I’ve worked with adult tiger sharks too, but honestly I don’t have anywhere near as many photos of these yet. This is something I’m hoping to improve upon in my future at the lab, and safe to say I’m excited to see what this adventure brings!

Part of my job is to run the social media pages of the lab – if you’d like to see more photos of sharks and learn more about what we get up to there do follow the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/biminisharklab

https://twitter.com/BiminiSharkLab

http://www.instagram.com/biminisharklab/

Thanks for reading! Lemon sharks will be featured next!

www.charlottesams.com

Advertisements

Fox cubs 3

For the first time last night I went to visit the cubs and I didn’t see them. Despite waiting nearly 3 hours and it being sunny weather they were nowhere to be seen.

My theories are that because it was a saturday the area had a few more people around than in the week, and therefore they may have been hiding. Also it was extremely windy and the direction had changed so was blowing my scent towards them, which may have been a factor. Or simply they were asleep and it was bad timing.

So here’s an old photo from one of my first shoots –

_DSC0857-2

A higher res edit of this image can be found can be found by clicking here.

I love fox cubs.

 

 

Fox cubs development

It had been a week since I had visited the cubs due to other commitments so was very happy to see them as soon as I arrived last night. I was sceptical whether they would be around because instead of the sunny weather it has now turned to rain and cloud around here.

Though there originally were 3, I only saw 2 at this visit. I’m also yet to see either the vixen or dog fox, and I’m thinking about putting a camera trap out to capture them one night soon.

These images were taken really early in the shoot. Despite waiting there for a few hours, they only reappeared once for a very short time. I plan on returning when the rain stops, hopefully in a few days, when they will be out and about a bit more.

Personally my favourite image of this set is the last one, because it shows more context, and the profile view of the cub highlights how small and young it still is. Enjoy!

_DSC1024 _DSC1026 _DSC1029

Fox cubs!

A long time ago I tried doing a project partially on foxes, and despite my efforts I wasn’t very successful with it. However due to a bit of luck this is now something I can pursue again.

I came across these fox cubs first with a couple of friends, and I recently returned to try and photograph them again. Watching the three little cubs play together apparently oblivious to my presence has honestly been one of the best wildlife moments I’ve ever had. I nearly got a bit emotional whilst watching them!

These images are from this shoot, I fully intend to go back as much as possible, but its a start which i’m very happy with!

_DSC0818 _DSC0824 _DSC0838

 

I visited the cubs again today, some cows have just been moved into their field so I thought they might have been disturbed and a bit more wary. I didn’t see them for a while but them when I changed positions I discovered two of them were just sleeping outside their den in the evening sun. I couldn’t get any closer and as they weren’t very active I didn’t take many images but here’s a sleeping cub –

_DSC8043Another shot of when he/she sat up outside the den entrance – _DSC8044And some buttercups I photographed earlier on whilst I was waiting for the cubs to come out – _DSC8032More on these again soon!

Cygnets

The signets arrived at Swanpool during hand in time, and then I went away, so on arriving back I really wanted to go and photograph them. I believe the gulls had already taken a few of them, they do this every year. When I visited there were 4 signets altogether, but I think originally there were 6 or 8.

I stuck with the family for a while which paid off as I was able to take these eye level shots from lying on the floor, rather than looking down on them in the water. So here’s a selection of the best images from the shoot, aren’t they cute!

_DSC0698 signet _DSC0691 _DSC0707_DSC0694_DSC0700