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  Field Notes From
Oceans of Plenty



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On Assignment
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From Author

Kennedy Warne



On Assignment

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From Photographer

David Doubilet



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by David Doubilet

 

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Oceans of Plenty

Field Notes From Photographer
David Doubilet
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I was under the bait ball as dolphins closed in and used their sonar to separate the swirling sardines. When they swept in they let out an otherworldly scream, like a thousand people on a roller coaster. Twenty or 30 dolphins charged into this chunk of bait and forced it up to the surface. As the sardines panicked and moved faster, they formed a great silvery circle. Then the dolphins slashed through the circle to feed, followed by birds, seals, and sharks. When the sardines dissipated, all that was left were a few floating fish ready to be scooped up by individual dolphins. It was incredible to watch the energy, intelligence, but most of all the graceful, unstoppable power of the dolphins.



Bad weather made it very difficult to get out onto the water. After a while I was making the worst decisions. I should have been at point X when I was at point Y. Then when I got to point X, I realized I should have stayed at point Y. I constantly dealt with that kind of problem.



I kept trying to push the envelope to get some kind of a shot while diving with southern right whales. Well, the whales were very rambunctious. They pushed us. They tried to knock us cold with their flippers. We were in a constant game of trying to avoid getting cold-cocked by a 20-ton (18-metric ton) animal. To make matters worse, we were in water with very limited visibility. So we never saw the whole whale. Then we poked up our heads and saw a boat from the shark fleet. It was chumming for sharks on the near horizon. So there we were, bobbing in the water trying to ward off this whale while at the same time worrying about becoming a potential meal for a great white shark. It was scary without ever seeing the real monster.





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