Diving off Santa Maria island in the Azores, Jordi relished his close encounters with blue sharks. ‘Sometimes they came within centimetres,’ he says. ‘They’re such beautiful animals, such elegant swimmers – it was a great spectacle.’ He spent a while shooting wide-angle images before turning his attention to the detail of their slender bodies. He had in mind a picture of two blues – one close up, another further away in profile. But with the sharks constantly cruising, framing the right moment was a challenge. When they fleetingly aligned he was ready, capturing the perfect blue shark portrait. Blue sharks are widespread and presumed abundant, though there are no population estimates. They migrate vast distances across the Atlantic, feeding mainly on bony fish and squid. But there is concern for their future. They are the most heavily fished shark species, with an unsustainable annual catch estimated at 20 million, mostly through longline and drift net fishing by-catch. Many are caught in European waters, and their fins are sold to the Asian market. There is now a campaign to create a shark sanctuary around the Azores, given that shark diving in the area is a more lucrative industry than fishing.
Canon EOS 5D + 17–40mm f4 lens; 1/80 sec at f13; ISO 200; custom-built housing; two Inon Z-220 strobes.
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Jordi Chias Pujol, Spain
Jordi is a freelance photographer based in Barcelona. He specialises in photographing the underwater world, capturing both wildlife and human activity. His work has been published in magazines and books, and has been used by conservation organisations. His photography has also garnered awards in many competitions.