Eastern Bahama bank: Part 1 The Long flight

Part 1 The Long flight

As the summer began to close I had an open week at the end that needed to be filled to shoot somewhere.  Narrowing it down to the Bahamas meant an extremely short flight, which was really nice compared to the places I usually fly.  As usual I carried everything on the plane and hardly ever check bags.  It makes things much quicker!  This trip I would be going back to a wedding destination I went to last year with my wife and staying with our friends who told me, your always welcome back.  FYI, if you ever tell me that be prepared to see me again, especially if your in a cool place in this world!  I was fortunate that Amelia, Darrins wife was flying back home from a business trip and was on my same flight.  Her husband Darrin picked us up from the airport and then we loaded up with groceries and then headed to the docks of Abaco where we headed out to their island of Man O War in the calm seas.  Off to a good start!  We would eat dinner and I heavily picked their brains with maps, charts and images of the area to plan where I would go in the following days.   I could;t have asked for better hosts.

Day 1:  I arise at 5:30 a.m. to pack up and head down to the docks where Darrin graciously let us use his 17′ Montauck for todays expedition.  The boat I grew up with and knew very well.  I left the dock on bahamian time to go pick up local photo student  Gabrielle whom had taken up my offer of some adventure photography in the area and also give me her valued knowledge of the area and the places to potentially create some interesting images.  She had grown up in this small island community with her ancestors dating way back on the island.  We came upon our first destination, a reef pass as the sun rose over the horizon.  This would be the first dive of the trip and the first time I photograph a Hawksbill sea turtle, whom I barely got a glimpse of before taking off again.  Thankfully Gabrielle noticed it camouflaged in the reef.  Just a juvenile struggling the steep road ahead of him or her of life as a sea turtle.

Turtles are protected in the Bahamas but only until somewhat recently have they all been protected with a new law passed in 2009.  Five of the world’s seven sea turtle species inhabit the Bahamas, and previously it was legal to kill any sea turtle species found there except one, the hawksbill. The hawksbill turtle has been protected in Bahamian waters since 1986.

We continued north to areas just off the islands north of Man O War and would hop into the water whenever I felt to need to explore.  We headed back south around noon to gas up and head south where we would pick up Gabriell’s friend Eric in Hope Town, whom joined us in the hunt to find some interesting spots for me to explore with my cameras.  We shot throughout the rest of the day traveling over 60 miles.  From Tiloo National Park to Great Guana Cay and everything in between the day was successful in finding some gems to shoot at.  Special thanks to Gabrielle and Eric for leading the way and showing me some of their favorite spots to go.  I crashed hard after dinner but not before doing more research, editing and gear prep for the next day that will start at sunrise again.  Note:  Everything shot was in the wild, not hand fed or attracted with chum for those asking.  I also exclusively free dive, with no tanks or oxygen.

Ben Hicks  www.bocaratonphoto.com     www.benjhicks.com      www.seaturtlephotos.com

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Blue tangs speeding by.

Blue tangs speeding by.

Blue tangs speeding by.

Blue tangs speeding by.

Blue tangs speeding by.

Blue tangs speeding by.

Grunt life.

Grunt life.

Puffer at Mermaid Reef

Puffer at Mermaid Reef

Abaco reef meeting.

Abaco reef meeting.

Great secret spot we found with forests of sea fans.

Great secret spot we found with forests of sea fans.

Boat dragging looking for things to shoot once it got choppy and we couldnt see anything.

Boat dragging looking for things to shoot once it got choppy and we couldnt see anything.

Bahamas

Bahamas

Jacks in the mangroves

Jacks in the mangroves

7Q7A2007MangroveBait

Mangrove school

Mangrove school

7Q7A1969MangroveMinnows

Cuda's lair.

Cuda’s lair.

7Q7A1942SaturatedMangrove

Starfish seemed up to no good climbing on the mangroves.

Starfish seemed up to no good climbing on the mangroves.

Roots make great reefs!

Roots make great reefs!

The upside down jellyfish

The upside down jellyfish

An Eagle ray near sunrise

An Eagle ray near sunrise

Hawksbill Juvenile sea turtle swimming near a reef.

Hawksbill Juvenile sea turtle swimming near a reef.