The lion pack
David had tried many times to get close-ups of Steller sea lions – large and very active mammals that can grow up to an impressive four metres in length and weigh more than a ton. On this particular winter day he got more than he bargained for. Waiting patiently off Hornby Island, British Columbia, with appalling visibility, he suddenly realised he wasn’t alone. There were at least 30 huge, inquisitive sea lions, swimming ever closer through the gloomy, green water. As their numbers increased, they grew bolder, and soon they were tugging on his arms and legs, and pushing him about. ‘The situation was potentially dangerous,’ says David, who was diving alone, ‘and so I grabbed a few hasty shots, without checking camera settings or even looking through the viewfinder, and then made a sharp exit.’ Loading the images onto his laptop later, he was amazed to see how well many of the shots had come out. ‘That night in my bunk,’ he adds, ‘I couldn’t sleep. All I could see were eyes staring at me in the dark.’
Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 17-40mm f4 lens; 1/100 sec at f9; ISO 800; Subal housing; two Ikelite DS125 strobes + diffusers.
Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada