The extraordinary mud-ring hunting technique of bottlenose dolphins is known to occur only in Crystal River and Florida Bay, Florida, USA. Brian headed for the bay, hoping to photograph this rare behaviour as part of a project on intelligence. The shallows over the mudflats are rich feeding grounds for dolphins, which use sonar to locate their prey, mainly mullet. They emit clicks that are sent out as a beam of sound. When the beam hits an object in the water, the sound is bounced back to the dolphin as an echo, which is used to locate the object. When a shoal is detected, one dolphin circles it, striking the mud with its tail to create a wall of muddy water around the prey. As the wall starts to dissipate, the panicking fish leap out of the water towards the rest of the dolphins, which line up to snatch the fish from the air. To capture the dolphins in the act, which takes just seconds, presented a challenge. Working from a helicopter with a dolphin researcher, Brian spotted the moment when the lead dolphin completed a perfect ring, and its two accomplices jumped up, mouths agape, ready to grab a meal.
Nikon D4 + 500mm lens; 1/1600 sec at f9; ISO 3200.
Florida Bay, Florida, USA
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Brian Skerry, USA
Brian is a photojournalist specialising in marine wildlife and underwater environments. He's the author of 10 books and has lectured at venues such as the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), The National Press Club in Washington, DC, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. He has held solo exhibitions in cities such as Perpignan, Geneva, Barcelona, Lisbon, Shanghai and Washington, DC. In 2014 he was named a National Geographic Photography Fellow.