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Photo Story: Eye Contact

What I Was Doing In Grand Bahama

I was originally in Grand Bahama for an expedition with friends to enjoy Tiger Beach. Unfortunately, there were many days where weather didn’t cooperate for us to make it the 4hr boat ride from our home in Freeport out to Tiger Beach. Out of the ten days we were diving in the Bahamas we only made it to Tiger Beach for three days of freediving. We made the best of our days stuck on land and did some smaller boat trips to explore other incredible spots around Grand Bahama.

Challenging Conditions at Tiger Beach

It was our last attempt at a day at Tiger Beach. The previous two dive days we had at Tiger Beach fell a little short of our expectations. To be fair, they were still awesome, but we had some issues with poor visibility and I personally know I went into the diving with way higher expectations than I should have. So this being this last day offshore the group was really hoping for something epic.

We started the morning out with the sharks but visibility was terrible. The vis can change dramatically with the tides at Tiger Beach and during our time there the timing of the tides made conditions far better in the afternoon than in the morning. We already had tiger sharks and tons of lemon sharks hanging out around the boat but it wasn’t safe for us to be diving in such bad visibility. We decided to leave Tiger Beach and move to a nearby wreck to do some spearing until the visibility got better. All the chum we used during this trip was caught and speared by ourselves.

Finding Spotted Dolphins in The Bahamas

Throughout our time in The Bahamas I knew it was a possibility we could encounter spotted dolphins. I had been hopeful we would be lucky enough to encounter bottlenose or spotted dolphins while exploring other dive sites around Grand Bahama but we never had any cetaceans swim by.

As we drove towards the wreck spot my friend spotted dorsal fins on the horizon. Not knowing exactly what it could be we excitedly drove that direction. Upon approach a pod of maybe 30 spotted dolphins approached the boat. We hopped in the water after this pod of spotted dolphins had spent fifteen minutes playing at the bow of our boat.

Freediving & Photographing Spotted Dolphins

Once we were in the water they swam and spun around us diving up and down through the water column. We would dive 20ft or so to the sand and they would rush over and spin around us as we moved to the surface to breathe again. I remember taking dives and needing air but the moment was so magical I would try and last just a second longer to not ruin it. The dolphin in this photo was swimming spirals with me, maintaining eye contact the entire time.

It was both the most fun and one of the most challenging moments I have had shooting wildlife. The moment wasn’t challenging because it was hard to have close enough interactions to get a good shot but because there was so much happening all at once. It was hard to know where to look and what to point the camera at. Especially shooting video I remember not knowing which direction to pan the camera.

This moment will go down in history as one of my top wildlife moments of all time.

Join my friend Alex with Xela Expeditions for an trip to The Bahamas or Shark Diving in Florida!

Check out more of my gallery from The Bahamas.

Browse prints here.

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