WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Underwater Species

Geo Cloete, South Africa

Jelly fireworks

Geo never forgot the vast swarm of box jellyfish he encountered when diving in Hout Bay off Cape Town, South Africa. He had no camera then, but the experience sparked a passion for jellyfish. He fantasised about creating a picture of a huge mass of them, moving ‘like a firework display in slow motion’, their tentacles like star trails. Though Geo occasionally found small groups of box jellyfish around South Africa’s Cape Peninsula, it was seven years before he came across another mass gathering. It was in exactly the same location, in water cloudy with plankton. The 500 or so tightly packed cube-shaped bells would shoot forward when they saw him. Though these small jellyfish have no central nervous system, they have clusters of eyes on the four sides of their bells so, unlike most other jellyfish, they can jet away. ‘Visibility was bad, and so I needed to manoeuvre them so that they were nearer the surface and I could look up at them and outline them against the sunlight,’ Geo says. Swimming into the mass, he braved the stings from their tentacles. With skilful positioning of his strobes to light rather than bleach those in the foreground, he managed to capture the otherworldly image he had in mind.

Technical specification

Nikon D300 + Tokina 10–17mm f3.5–4.5 lens at 10mm; 1/320 sec at f16; ISO 160; Seatool housing; two Inon Z-240 strobes.

Hout Bay, South Africa: latitude -34.0333, longitude 18.35 Hout Bay, South Africa: latitude -34.0333, longitude 18.35

Hout Bay, South Africa

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Geo Cloete

Geo Cloete, South Africa

Most of Geo's work is created along Cape Town's coastline - but his love of exploring and discovering the unknown also leads him to work in far-off places. His work has allowed him to document previously unknown animal behaviours. He strongly believes that sharing the beauty and wonders of the ocean will cultivate the awareness and love that the ocean and its creatures deserve.

  • Tentacle tornado