Brian travelled to the waters off northwest Oahu, Hawaii, to photograph spinner dolphins as part of a scientific project examining dolphin intelligence. The researchers were looking in particular at social alliances and feeding strategies. Spinners are well known for their acrobatics, leaping up to three metres out of the water and completing as many as seven revolutions in the air before plunging in again. It is not certain why they do this, though it may be to dislodge remoras, or suckerfish, from their bodies and for communication. Their spinning once caused them to be targeted for aquariums, but they are hugely social – living in large pods of up to 200 individuals – so never survived well in captivity. The dolphins Brian was working with foraged at night for fish, squid and shrimps in deep water offshore, then came into shallow bays in the early morning to socialise and rest. The animals are often harassed by dolphin-watching boats. Brian was careful to position himself off to the side so as not to disturb the pod. Free diving to a depth of nearly 18 metres, he took advantage of the white sand backdrop to create his picture – a moment of dolphin downtime, his subjects relaxed in their world.
Nikon D4 + 17–35mm lens at 24mm; 1/500 sec at f11; ISO 1000; Subal housing.
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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.