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thomaspeschak thomaspeschak

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Thomas Peschak  National Geographic Photographer // Storyteller // Marine Biologist //Conservationist// NatGeo Explorer


For over 15 years sharks were my favorite and most enduring photographic subjects. I recently dialed back my coverage of sharks in favor of less well known endangered species and ecosystems, but I still love spending time in the ocean with them. After 5 years of documenting white sharks (2000-2005) off Gansbai near Cape Town I turned my attention to South Africa’s hottest shark hotspot, a offshore reef system called Aliwal Shoal. On a really good day I have encountered up to 8 different tiger sharks, half a dozen bulls, raggies, scalloped hammerheads, duskies and often more than 50 blacktip sharks. Drifting in the blue and watching parades of sharks swim in and out of view continues to be one of my happiest and most enduring memories. @natgeo @natgeocreative #aliwal #southafrica #sharks #ocean #diving

Galapagos marine iguanas are the world's only ocean going lizards. They graze on cold water seaweeds and increases in sea temperature due to climate change will have detrimental effects. Warm water = No nutritious seaweeds = No iguanas. In this photograph a marine iguana scratches its nose on the claws of a dead and desiccated compatriot. If temperatures continue to warm these Galapagos icons could become the first to disappear. To find out more and help follow @darwinfound Shot on assignment for @natgeo #climatechangegalapagos #galapagos #iguanas #hot

Some of the most unusual animal behavior I ever witnessed was on Wolf Island in the Galapagos. What to do when you are a small bird living on a remote island and there is practically no food (seeds, insects) available during the dry season? If you are a Galapagos sharp-beaked ground finch then you take inspiration from Dracula. To survive they vigorously peck at the base of Nazca boobie (a seabird) flight feathers and drink their blood. Shot #onassignment for @natgeo magazine in collaboration with @darwinfound @saveourseasfoundation @fonassociation and #paulmangellfoundation #vampire #dracula #galapagosnationalpark #galapagos

A northern elephant seal pup curiously inspects its reflection in the glass dome of my underwater camera. It is always a very humbling experience when a wild animal decides that I am worthy of its curiosity. Once hunted to near extinction in Pacific Ocean, today the species has made a remarkable conservation comeback. Check out the background of this image (bottom right) for a quick primer how these elephant seals orchestrated their recovery :-) Shot #onassignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @maresmexicanos

The water in Baja California's San Ignacio lagoon is usually green and murky and photographing the gray whales that come here to mate and give birth underwater is usually very tricky. I spent almost a month working this lagoon and for a short but very memorable 45 minutes I hit the photo jackpot. Clear blue water and more whales then I knew what to do with. Shot on assignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @maresmexicanos #mexico #baja #whales

I watched this male oceanic manta ray chase a female for over 10 minutes. She however showed little interest and soon the amorous intentions of the male manta were firmly focused on me. This encounter occurred in the Revillegegedo Islands off Pacific Mexico, one of our planets holy grails for manta, shark, dolphin and pelagic fish encounters. I am therefore thrilled that Mexico has just proclaimed a 57,000 square mile fully protected Marine National Park around the islands. Shot on assignment for @natgeo with @maresmexicanos and @mantatrust in the #Revillegegedo Islands off Pacific #Mexico.

I love photographing animals doing surprising and unusual things. For a few years now I have photographed marine wildlife surfing waves from an underwater perspective. I have successfully shot wave-riding turtles, fur seals, dolphins and even marine iguanas, but manta rays had eluded me. Until the day a fierce current pulled me into shallow water on Hanifaru Bay’s reef flat. Busy fighting the current and duck diving under breaking waves I almost missed the manta ray in the same predicament as me. A large wave broke almost directly on top of the manta, but it did not seem bothered and effortlessly surfed past me into the lagoon. Shot on expedition with @mantatrust and @fonassociation This image can be found in my and @mantaguy latest book MANTA: Secret Life of Devil Rays. Check out the link below my bio for more info.

The best camera/lens combination is the one you are holding in your hands! I was walking through coastal forest on the tiny Seychelles island of Cousine when a white term began to hover inches from my face and tried to land on my head. Unfortunately I was on my way to go diving, in addition to wearing a wetsuit and clutching my fins in my teeth I was holding my heavy/bulky underwater camera setup. With no other option than use the gear in my hands, I raised my underwater rig to my eye, framed as best i could and hit the shutter. I think this certainly the only terrestrial photograph that I have ever shot for @natgeo magazine with my underwater camera. @natgeocreative

Aerial photography is one of my passions, I love to hang out (tied into a safety harness) of helicopters and document the sheer exuberance of our planet from above. I have been fortunate to witness some incredibly scenes, but shooting a double rainbow over the D’Arros Island and St. Joseph Atoll in the Seychelles was a very special moment. This ring of islands was once commercially exploited for fish and coconuts, but today it is protected and prized for its marine biodiversity and seabird colonies. The island is managed for conservation by the @saveourseasfoundation Shot on assignment for @natgeo magazine for the March 2016 story “Return of the Seychelles” @natgeocreative

A Indo-Pacific lemon and Blacktip reef shark battle a ripping tidal current in one of the channels that connects Aldabra's lagoon with the open ocean. The seas around this remote atoll in the Seychelles are some of the most pristine in the Indian Ocean, with sharks and large predatory reef fish being very abundant. Shot on assignment for @natgeo in collaboration with @sif_seychelles #sharks #aldabra @natgeocreative

After ten years of photography and research @mantaguy and myself have just released the world's first book devoted to manta rays 😃 Click the link below my bio to get your very own copy of MANTA just in time for Christmas and the festive season. All profits from the book go directly to @mantatrust to support manta conservation projects all over the world.

For years I watched young Cape fur seals play "pass the seaweed" but it was only recently that I was invited to partake in the game myself. This seal dropped a kelp frond a few inches from my face and retreated, waiting for me to make a move. I grabbed the seaweed, swum a few feet up into the water and released it into the current. Like a dog fetching a stick, the seal brought it back...again and again and again... #capetown #home #backyard #ocean @natgeocreative

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