Up close, the last thing many fish will ever see

Its jaws wide open beneath the blank gaze of a single eye, a shark breaks the surface of the sea to reveal ranks of jagged teeth.

It’s one of some 30 or more milling around in a feeding frenzy in the same spot of ocean.

In the midst of them all is underwater photographer Eric Cheng, who has spent the last eight years getting up close to the sharks of the Bahamas.

[Open wide: A lemon shark reveals its jagged teeth]

Fortunately the species involved is the lemon shark. Though reaching up to 12ft in length, they are a great deal more interested in other fish and molluscs than Mr Cheng.

Nevertheless, he admits getting in the water with dozens of the predators is never less than exciting.

‘It can be a little intimidating at first. They swarm all around you, and in some cases, will actually come close enough to bump into cameras,’ he said.

‘It’s strange because it’s easy to have a false sense of security with lemon sharks. I have to constantly remind myself that they are also large animals with sharp teeth. Although nothing is likely to happen, it’s important to stay alert all the time.’

Jaws: Lemon sharks can grow up to 12 feet in length. They have huge teeth but feed on bonefish and molluscs and are calm in temperament

Distinctive by their two dorsal fins, lemon sharks are one of the most the world’s most closely studied species because they survive well in captivity.

‘I have been going to the Bahamas since 2002 because it is one of the best places on the planet to photograph large sharks,’ added Mr Cheng.

‘It’s typical to photograph five or six species of large sharks in a single trip.’

Big species found off the Bahamas include the bull shark, tiger shark, whale shark and the great hammerhead.

‘Compared to some of them, the lemon shark is a softie, says Mr Cheng.

‘Although they look aggressive because their teeth are visible  – even when their mouths are closed  –  they are calm in temperament,’ he said.

Divers with bait for the lemon sharks swim among them under the MV Shear Water at tiger beach

Even so, he is careful not to place himself in unnecessary danger. They tend to investigate floating objects so he stays away from the surface when bait is put in the water.

‘When one opens its mouth to snap at the fish, I take the shot. These snaps literally last a fraction of a second, so timing is critical.’

Many such shots are now taken using a camera mounted on a pole.

Investigating their habits, the crew watch as the sharks swarm around fish scraps thrown out on fishing lines


Plenty more Cool Stuff

3 Responses to “Up close, the last thing many fish will ever see”

  1. Wow, Very cool Photo Sharks

  2. Sean says:

    Very, very nice photos! I wish to try this out someday!

  3. raja says:

    niceeeeeeeeeee

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.