Eastern Bahama Bank Part 2 – Day 3 – Paddle power

Day 3 – Paddle power

This morning I rose to the rooster next door.  5:15 was sleeping in anyway, so thanks mr rooster.  My plan today was to explore on an SUP the local spots around the island of Man O War.  I am very lucky to have a top notch watercraft selection that includes 2 boats, a jet ski, SUP and 2 kayaks.  Badass hosts for a photographer I must say.  The downside…. Gas is over 6$ a gallon over here.
An SUP can put me in places quietly and in very shallow water like nothing else can.  I also have the ability to see everything by standing.  Today I chose there 14′ Tower inflatable.  Plenty of space for my gear and stable to shoot from if need be.  I set out at 7 a.m. and explored the entire northwest coast of the island.  Paddling in and out of sand bars, reef, cuts, mini harbors and more.  I did about 5 miles and was out shooting for about 5 hrs before my body was ready to quit.  From creeping up and huge stingrays to shooting rows of starfish it was a day full of creative thinking on how to get the most interesting angle from a situation.  I finally made it back to the harbor and then rode my bike back to where I was staying.  I had to finish and edit and then I passed out for 3 hours in preparation for tonights star shooting, which wouldn’t conclude until 11pm.  In the afternoon when the sun started to descend back to the horizon I headed back out on the SUP to head south into the harbor.  The wind was strong and straight into my face.  Didn’t shoot much but checked off another area to explore.  Came home to continue working and then headed out on the golf cart to look for a secluded dock in the darkness of the night.  I shot about 4 images in an hour.  Long exposures and each time I would lay down on the dock and watch the stars, something you just can’t do in Boca Raton, Florida where I am from.  Overall I had a great day with my focus being on Stingrays and Starfish, spending hours searching for them and carefully sneaking up on them (not the starfish!).  Stingrays and interesting animals and I am fascinated by how they react around me.  I had to be extremely careful as these were wild and not at all used to human interaction ( unlike many of the photographs you see of stingrays in the bahamas).  They are extremely skittish and I had to approach very slowly to even get a glimpse close to them.
The sun set and my arms were toast from paddle boarding for 4+ hours and my legs were jelly from swimming for long periods of time with rays!  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, weight belts or oxygen.

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

Supported by #Cressi Dive Gear USA    #Dakine Photo packs

There was a lot of research before, during and throughout this trip.  Tides, moon phases, Sunset sunrise times, winds, water clarity, temp.  You name it.  Preparation is it!

There was a lot of research before, during and throughout this trip. Tides, moon phases, Sunset sunrise times, winds, water clarity, temp. You name it. Preparation is it!

Can you say amazing host!  This is just one of Amelia's dinners she made!  My stomach smiles!

Can you say amazing host! This is just one of Amelia’s dinners she made! My stomach smiles!

I shot two different star shots from the same dock, totally different exposures and also add a flash light to one of the dock images as well.

I shot two different star shots from the same dock, totally different exposures and also added  a flash light to one of the dock images seen below.

I shot two different star shots from the same dock, totally different exposures and also add a flash light to one of the dock images as well.

I shot two different star shots from the same dock, totally different exposures and also added a flash light here.

The ever so curious schools of Tang.

The ever so curious schools of Tang.

Are those minnows flying?

Are those minnows flying?

In a cloud of fish.

In a cloud of fish.

Touchy feely.

Touchy feely.

Not a bad place to call my office today.

Not a bad place to call my office today.

Stars.

Stars.

Star colors

Star colors

The starfish creep along ever so slightly.

The starfish creep along ever so slightly.

Banked turn.

Banked turn.

Stealth bomber.

Stealth bomber.

I think he woke up on the wrong side of the sand flats.

I think he woke up on the wrong side of the sand flats.

stopping to search for food.

stopping to search for food.

Sails

Sails