I always say that underwater photography requires a lot of luck to get the right shots. This one is no different, we dropped in on our dive site, and my buddy immediately started pointing at the ground at about 18 Meters, I looked down and there was a Leopard Shark, resting on the sand in fairly strong current. We descended rapidly just to the side of him to not disturb him as we knew the other divers would see us soon enough and probably wreck our opportunity.
If you’ve spent time with Leopard Sharks you might have noticed they don’t really mind divers too much, you can get very very close to them if you are not a moron. Get low to the ground, go super slow from the side or in front of them and get some beautiful shots. If you approach from an area that they can’t see well, like the top, or back of them, they will spook and swim off. If you make a ton of noise or approach to fast, again they will disappear and you’ve ruined it not just for yourself, but for anyone else on the dive. So as I’m approaching nice and slow, another group comes by and one of the customers tries to sit on the shark, not even joking. I literally screamed at them underwater through my regulator, I can’t write what I was saying, but they got the message and they #$%^ed off. Sadly they had of course disturbed the Leopard Shark and he left, total head shaking moment.
Now I was pretty jilted about the whole scenario, but I thought I’d try to follow the path the Shark took off the reef, I had good customers, trained for depth, possibly the Shark would rest again elsewhere, I hoped. Thankfully my intuition proved fruitful and we found him again at 25 Meters, resting as before, but now, we were un-sheltered, the reef provided no protection out on the sands, in strong current picking up huge amounts of sand and silt throwing it over the Leopard Shark. You can see it in the background of this shot, all that sand trying hard to ruin the shot, it was extremely difficult to time the photo correctly & get the least amount of particulate matter in frame, especially with a large subject you can’t back light.
In the end with some delicate post processing here is a clean photo of an awesome and thankfully sleepy Leopard Shark.